Adrian Peterson is having an incredible season. He’s likely to hit the 2,000-yard mark on Sunday, and he’s also chasing Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. But his splits this year are…interesting.
The table below shows Adrian Peterson’s game logs. These display his traditional statistics, along with his Win Probability added, Expected Points Added, and Success Rate, all courtesy of Advanced NFL Stats; finally I have added the Vikings SRS score for that particularly game (on the season, Minnesota has an SRS of +3.0).
[table id=353 /]Peterson has only had two games this season where he averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry. Those two games were, without question, the two most impressive wins of the year for the Vikings. Peterson had identical stat lines of 25 carries/86 yards/0 touchdowns in shocking upsets over the 49ers and Texans.
In addition to those two games, Peterson had three other games with poor success rates — wins over the Lions, Titans, and Cardinals. According to Burke, Peterson had only two great games when it comes to Win Probability Added: they were the two losses to the Packers and Seahawks. Those were his best two games according to EPA-added and yards per carry, and those games represent two of his three highest rushing totals.
Adrian Peterson is clearly The Man. So what gives? I don’t think we can say definitively, but my guess is that a running back alone can’t simply account for too many wins. He can cause defenses to focus their attention on him, but the question often still comes down to whether or not Christian Ponder can deliver; Peterson alone is rarely enough.
There have been four games this year where the Vikings have had the ANY/A edge, and they won all four games. In three of them (SF, HOU, TEN) that differential was largely due to a great job by the defense; only against the Jaguars did the passing game really shine.
Here’s another interesting fact. In Minnesota’s wins, Peterson has 210 carries for 1,136 yards, a 5.41 yards per carry average; in Minnesota’s losses, Peterson has 104 carries and an amazing 7.4 YPC average. Among the 23 running backs with at least 50 carries in both wins and losses this year, that’s the most drastic split in the NFL.
[table id=354 /]