We've briefly touched on this in a couple of posts, but I think it's time we open this to a full-on debate to anyone that wants to chip in their two cents.
This season saw the return of a couple of the brightest stars in the NFL galaxy. We know about Adrian Peterson and what he's been through to come back from a devastating knee injury ten months ago, but equally impressive has been the return of quarterback Peyton Manning, who is now with the Denver Broncos after spending fourteen seasons as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, and people wondered whether or not he'd ever play again. We saw how much he meant to that Colts team, as they went 2-14 and secured the #1 overall pick in the draft. When the Colts made it clear that they'd be taking can't-miss prospect Andrew Luck with that top pick, the team granted Manning his release.
After being courted by a couple of teams, most notably the San Francisco 49ers, Manning signed with the Broncos, and has been nothing short of amazing through Denver's first nine games. He's completing nearly 70% of his passes, he's averaging 300 passing yards per game, and he's thrown 21 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. (Half of those interceptions came in a Monday night game in Week 2 against a pretty good Atlanta Falcons team.) His quarterback rating of 108.0 is the highest in the NFL in that category.
On the other side, there's Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson missed a couple of games with injuries in 2011 prior to tearing his ACL and meniscus on Christmas Eve against the Washington Redskins. Everyone told us that it would take Peterson a significant amount of time, if not the entire 2012 season, to get back to what he "used to be." And they're right. . .Adrian Peterson isn't what he used to be. There's a very good chance that he's better.
Through the first ten games of the year, Peterson is averaging a ridiculous 112.8 yards rushing per game, and an equally ridiculous 5.8 yards per carry. He's done this for the majority of the season with a struggling/developing (dependent upon one's perspective) passing game. He's done this despite only averaging 19.5 carries per game. (He's had more than 20 carries in only four of the Vikings' ten games this season, and his 27 carries this past Sunday was a season high.)
So, if you were giving away the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award today. . .who would you give it to? (Yes, I know who the majority of us are going to vote for. . .but across the rest of the league, this is a topic of discussion.)