Nine yards.

Not even enough for a first down.

That’s what separated Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from setting a new single season yards record. He finished on 2,097. A mark which left current record holder Eric Dickerson thankful. He wasn’t quite ready to let his 28 year old standard be broken by the NFL’s best back of recent years.

Adrian Peterson could well gain the NFL Most Valuable Player award, given that he achieved the second best season practically a year to the day he suffered a potential career ending knee injury. He really is head and shoulders above the other backs in the league today.

The question has to be asked then. If Peterson wasn’t playing right now, who would be the best running back in today’s NFL?

There are many pretenders to the crown and over the next two or three seasons we will see if they have the stamina to stay the course.

One case could be the talented Doug Martin. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie had a great first season, really coming to the front of everyone’s fantasy page after a breakout game in mid-season ahainst the Oakland Raider. After that he had the league’s defences attention but he remained a threat and ended the year with 1,454 yards at an average of 4.6 per carry. Out of the top ten backs in terms of yards gained he led with only one fumble to his name.

Arian Foster of the Houston Texans had a great season and helped the Texans to the AFC South title. Finishing the year just 30 yards behind Martin, he was the most successful of all backs in the league in terms of finding the end zone. Scoring on the ground an impressive fifteen times, he will hope to carry that form into the playoffs.

The Washington Redskins rookie (no not that one), Alfred Morris virtually carried his team into the playoffs with a three touchdown, 200 yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East title decider. This catapulted him up the leagues rushing table to finish second behind Peterson. A total of 1,613 yards were amassed by the man who had to live in the RG3 shadow all year, but if the Redskins are to have a deep playoff run he will be very instrumental in it.

Building up to who I think is the best of rest then honourable mentions go out to Buffalos CJ Spiller, who was Peterson's equal in terms of average per carry (6.0) and second behind him on runs over 20 yards (12 to APs 27!). Jamaal Charles finished with 1,509 yards which was fourth on the rushing list, imagine what he could of done if he wasn’t on the NFLs worst team Kansas City.

Coming off his best season statistically and helping his team to an amazing second half of the season which ended in a playoff berth, Marshawn Lynch has to be the most complete back in football today. Going over 100 yards ten times this year, having achieved this figure in each of the last four games. 1,590 was his final total on the ground, add this to the 196 yards from 23 catches out of the backfield, Lynch has become a valuable weapon in the Seattle Seahawks armoury. Again like others he has had to play in the shadow of another rookie sensation, but he is just as, if not more important than his quarterback. It could well be the running play of Lynch that carries Seattle through the playoffs. Indeed he could in fact meet the standard bearer of the NFL backs in the postseason.

That really would be something to see in today’s pass first game.