Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning are both having superb seasons. Both players are in the running for the NFL MVP award but both players are also in the running for the Comeback Player of the Year. Manning sat out of football last season while recovering from multiple neck surgeries while Adrian Peterson has made a remarkable recovery from a devastating knee injury last season.
Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts this season after the team decided to move on after drafting Stanford QB Andrew Luck. There were serious questions surrounding whether or not Manning would be able to regain his velocity and if Manning could absorb a hit in the pocket. Denver rolled the dice and the gamble has paid off handsomely for the Broncos this season.
In Peterson’s case, questions surrounded when he would be able to return to the field and if he would be the same back he was prior to his injury. Peterson maintained all along that he would be ready for the season opener despite skeptics saying he would be rushing back to the field. He played in the Vikings season opener, rushing for 84 yards and two scores.
Not only are both players playing at a very high level after returning after serious injuries, but both players are currently on pace to log career years, which is simply remarkable.
Manning seems to be getting better each week as his familiarity with the Denver offense and his receivers. Manning has tossed 11 interceptions this season, three coming in week two against the Atlanta Falcons, a game he looked horrible in. At his current pace, Manning is projected to finish the season with 4,809 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. Remarkably, 4800 yards would be a career high for Manning and 37 scores would be the most since 2004 for Manning.
Peterson is having a successful season as well. He has now rushed for over 120 yards in his last four games, torching the Seattle Seahawks defense for 182 yards and two scores two weeks ago. Only twice this season, Peterson has finished with a rushing average under 4 yards per carry and has a 5.8 yards per carry average currently, a career high. He posted a 5.6 average in his rookie season.
On his current pace, Peterson will finish the season with over 1,800 yards, eclipsing his career best 1,760 yards he posted in 2008.
Both players have helped their respective teams reach six wins this season. However, going forward, the Broncos look to be in a much better position to reach post-season play this season. If the Broncos go deep into the playoffs this season, that might be the tipping point for voters in the post-season award.
I disagree with that rationale though. Both players are having fantastic seasons and they both started the season with serious questions regarding their injuries. If their high level of play continues for the remainder of the season, there is simply on logical thing for voters to do, vote for co-Comeback Players of the Year, awarding the trophy to both players.