Denver Broncos: Keys to stopping Adrian Peterson


The Denver Broncos defense will get a challenge this week when they host the Minnesota Vikings. If the Broncos want to continue the season undefeated, it will come down to stopping one man: Adrian Peterson.

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Peterson is the leading rusher in the NFL, currently averaging 97 yards a game, according to Pro Football Reference. Although he was away from the game for almost a full year, Peterson has shown that he still has the ability to dominate the game every time he carries the ball. The Vikings could use a lot of help from other parts of the offense yet that may be the only way the Vikings can beat the Broncos. There two distinct keys to stopping Adrian Peterson from breaking out on Sunday.

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Denver currently have one of the greatest disparities in DVOA ranking, according to Football Outsiders. They have the best defense, including ninth against the run, but 31st in offense. It should come as no surprise that the Broncos defense is ranked first in the league, given they’re ability, or possible luck, in creating turnovers.

Whether it is with a game-saving interception against the Baltimore Ravens in week 1, a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 2 or a game-sealing pick by David Burton Jr. against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, the defense has an uncanny ability to create turnovers. It helps that Peterson has put the ball on the ground twice this season. The run game will have their hands full but there’s another way to beat Peterson than stacking eight in the box.

The real way to stop Peterson is to keep the Vikings offense off the field and, in turn, get out to a lead. The Vikings are not truly built to come from behind. Once they fell behind in their week 1 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, the Vikings were forced to abandon the run game and make Teddy Bridgewater save the day. Bridgewater was fine, completing 23 of his 32 passes but no pass was longer than 27 yards. Not helpful in a double-digit deficit.

Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings are forced to throw to get back into a game, you are taking away their best offensive weapon. Peterson is a good pass catcher but he’s not gonna be running seam routes 25 yards down field. Not only that, but then Bridgewater is forced to face AFC Defensive Player of the Month DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller and that crazy Broncos pass rush. This could help the Broncos get out to a big lead but that could be an issue for the Broncos in this young season.

The Broncos haven’t been able to pull away from any opponent so far. Each game has been a beat-em-up style dog fight. Are the Broncos capable of dropping 45 points on someone in a given week? Sure, but there hasn’t been an indication that they will any time soon. As I talked about last week, the running game is all but non existent, Peyton Manning is now running the offense out of the pistol formation and his passes downfield are quick outs and slants to Emmanuel Sanders or jump balls to the pterodactyl that is Demaryius Thomas.

Keep an eye on the front seven for the Broncos. Forcing Bridgewater to beat you, under pressure, throwing towards a defense who is only giving up 56.8 yards per game to the opposing #1 wide receivers, which is best in the NFL. Throw in the fact that Denver has accrued six interceptions so far, It could be a long day for Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.

Next: Denver Broncos running game; Where is it?

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