We haven't seen a position other than quarterback or running back be named NFL Offensive Player of the Year since Jerry Rice won the award in 1993. Come Saturday night, that trend won't be broken.
One name appears to be ultimately vying for this honor after the success he saw in 2011. He made a remarkable comebacks from major injuries, and eventually shattered his prior preseason expectations. We're talking, of course, about Adrian Peterson.
After the Vikings finished their matchup against the Redskins on Christmas Eve in 2011, football fans weren't sure when they would see Peterson back in action. In fact, the world of football wasn't sure it would ever see the same dominant, physical runner return to form ever again.
Less than a year later, No. 28 was back to shock just about everyone around the league. How well did he perform? Peterson rushed for a career-high 2,097 yards, averaged a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry, and scored 13 total touchdowns. This is the same player who tore his ACL and MCL just nine months before the start of the season. It's difficult to even fathom the fact that he came within 9 yards of breaking the NFL's single-season rushing record.
Several other performances in 2012 are certainly worth noting here. Peyton Manning entered the year with a similar situation to Peterson. There was a time in 2011 where some believed Manning wouldn't play football anymore. Multiple neck surgeries jeopardized his playing career, but the ailing veteran wouldn't be deterred for long.
He landed with Denver in the offseason and helped lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record in his first season. Manning quickly silenced his critics who continued to question his arm strength, finishing 2012 with 4,659 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and just 11 interceptions. His overall passer rating of 105.8 was the second-highest total of his career. He came up short against the Ravens in the playoffs, but Manning put up big numbers every time he stepped on the field.
Calvin Johnson broke the single-season receiving yardage record, previously held by the aforementioned Rice. Anytime you break a mark set by that guy, you know you're on the right track. Megatron will still come up short in this conversation, but 122 receptions for 1,954 yards in nothing short of stellar as well. If only Matthew Stafford figured out how to get him the ball in the end zone more often.
Tom Brady also put in a very Tom Brady-like year. With 4,827 yards, 34 touchdowns, and eight picks Brady fueled the Patriots to another successful campaign even without the likes of Rob Gronkowkski and Aaron Hernandez for part of the way.
The NFL bloggers at SB Nation voted Adrian Peterson as their NFL Offensive Player of the Year back in December. With 21 of the 27 votes, AP ran away with it. You can expect similar results on Sunday night. Peterson's season will be widely discussed throughout the future of NFL lore, and he deserves resounding recognition for what he accomplished. It's hard to imagine anyone but AP winning this award.
You can watch the NFL Honors Award Show tonight starting at 9 p.m. on CBS.