Adrian Peterson (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Adrian Peterson appears to be back from knee surgery after winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, but he will be going up against a good Bucs run defense. We break down the rankings and numbers for the Vikings-Bucs game.
Adrian Peterson hasn't proclaimed himself all the way back yet from reconstructive knee surgery on Dec. 30, but being the recipient of the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award would seem to speak otherwise. Peterson's 153 yards on 23 carries last week was the second straight time that he has won the award while playing the Arizona Cardinals – he won the award Oct. 9, 2011 when he ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
For Peterson, it is the sixth time he has won the honor, but the first time since he had the surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee. Many questioned whether Peterson would make it all the way back, and, while he maintains he doesn't feel 100 percent, the output on the field speaks otherwise. Head coach Leslie Frazier said from his vantage point, Peterson looked as strong as ever and that it will only be a matter of time until the 60-yard race to the end zone becomes the next step in his return to form.
How does Peterson respond to his best performance of the season? We'll find out tonight, but one thing is certain – the bar has been raised.
VIKINGS-BUCCANEERS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 23rd-ranked offense (7th rushing, 27th passing) and the ninth-ranked defense (12th rushing, 11th passing).
The Buccaneers have the 20th-ranked offense (17th rushing, 15th passing) and the 25th-ranked defense (3rd rushing, 31st passing).
The Vikings are averaging 336 yards a game on offense (204 passing, 132 rushing). The Buccaneers are averaging 347 yards a game (246 passing, 101 rushing).
Minnesota's defense is allowing 320 yards a game (220 passing, 100 rushing). Tampa Bay is allowing 399 yards a game (323 passing, 73 rushing).
Tampa Bay is tied for eighth in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-4 (11 takeaways, 7 giveaways). The Vikings are tied for 18th at minus-1 (10 takeaways, 11 giveaways).
The Bucs are tied for sixth in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 61.1 percent of the red zone chances (11 of 18). The Vikings are 16th at 54.2 percent (13 of 24).
Defensively, Tampa Bay is fourth in the red zone, allowing just seven touchdowns on 19 possessions (36.8 percent). The Vikings are 12th at 47.6 percent (10 of 21 opponent possessions).
The Vikings are 21st in third-down conversions, making good on just 31 of 89 chances (34.8 percent). Tampa Bay is even worse, converting just 29.2 percent (21 of 72). The league average is 38.9 percent.
Defensively, Tampa Bay is eighth in third-down efficiency, allowing opponents to convert just 29 of 82 chances (35.4 percent). The Vikings are 24th at 43.7 percent (45 of 103).
The league average starting point for drives following a kickoff is the 22.1-yard line. The Vikings lead the NFL with an average starting position of the 26.2-yard line. Tampa Bay is on the league average of the 22.1, which ranks them 21st in the league.
Josh Freeman has two 300-yard passing games this season, while Christian Ponder has one.
The Vikings have allowed just one 300-yard passing game, while Tampa Bay has allowed four in six games.
Percy Harvin has three 100-yard receiving games. The Buccaneers have five – three from Vincent Jackson and two from Mike Williams.
The Vikings have allowed just two 100-yard receivers, while Tampa Bay has allowed five.
Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games. Tampa Bay has none.
The Vikings have allowed a 100-yard rusher each of the last two weeks, while the Bucs have allowed just one all year.
Ponder is sixth in the league in completion percentage (67.0), is 28th in average yards per pass (6.57), tied for 13th in touchdown passes (9) and, after being the last starter to throw an interception, he is now tied for 14th with six picks. He is 14th in passer rating at 87.5 after a brutal game Sunday.
Freeman is second in average per pass attempt (8.22 yards), is tied for ninth in touchdowns (11) and is 11th in passer rating (91.2).
Ponder has been dominant in the fourth quarter with a passer rating of 99.5, which ranks him eighth in the league. Freeman is 14th with a passer rating of 89.3.
On the flip side, Ponder is 30th in the league in third-down passer rating at 59.3, ahead of only Tony Romo and Alex Smith. Freeman is eighth with a passer rating of 91.2 on third down.
Peterson is tied with Marshawn Lynch for third in rushing yards at 652. Doug Martin is 19th with 408 yards.
Harvin is second in receptions with 53, one behind Wes Welker. Jackson leads the Bucs with 27 receptions, which ties him for 45th in the league.
While Jackson is tied for 45th in receptions, he is sixth in receiving yards with 586. Harvin is tied for seventh with Brandon Marshall of the Bears with 577 yards.
Kyle Rudolph is tied for sixth place in scoring among non-kickers with 32 points (five touchdowns, one two-point conversion). Jackson is tied for ninth with 30 points (five TDs), and Harvin is tied for 19th with 24 points (four TDs).
Blair Walsh is fourth in scoring among kickers with 63 points. Connor Barth of the Bucs is tied for 18th with 46 points.
There may not be many kickoff returns Thursday. Walsh leads the league with 27 touchbacks and Tampa Bay's Michael Koenen is tied for third with 24.
Peterson leads the league in total yards from scrimmage with 787 (652 rushing, 135 receiving). Harvin is 11th with 650 yards (577 receiving, 73 rushing). Jackson leads the Bucs with 586 yards (all receiving).
Harvin leads the league in kickoff return average at 35.1 yards per return.
Jared Allen keeps climbing the league sack charts. He broke the top 20 last week when he was tied for 19th. This week, he is tied for eighth with six sacks. Brian Robison is tied for 24th with four sacks.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.