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NFL Power Rankings 2012, Week 16: Peterson has Vikings moving up

Adrian Peterson is carrying Minnesota to a potential playoff spot, and the NFL power rankings are taking notice.

Joe Robbins

Adrian Peterson is locked and loaded, looking for an MVP award and a playoff game for his Vikings. And he's definitely got the attention of the NFL power rankers.

After Peterson trucked the Rams for 212 yards in Sunday's win, the rankings are abuzz over his chances to catch and pass Eric Dickerson for the NFL's single-season rushing record. At 1,812 yards, Peterson needs 188 yards to hit 2,000, and 293 to become the new No. 1. If he can do that, he'll be a heavy favorite for the MVP. But on top of that, he needs to carry Minnesota into the playoffs.

The Vikings' win bumped them one spot in all but one of this week's rankings. Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN gave Minnesota a slight nudge, citing Peterson's incredible 2012 performance. SB Nation kept Minnesota at No. 14 in the midst of a number of other 8-6 teams.

Around the NFC North, the Packers are flirting with top-five status after clinching the division. The Bears have fallen past the Vikings thanks to their fifth loss in their last six games. The Lions, meanwhile, continue to flounder in the bottom third of the rankings.

Overall, New England is no longer No. 1 after losing to San Francisco. In the Patriots' place, SB Nation and CBS have anointed Denver as the best team in the land, while Yahoo and ESPN are siding with the 49ers.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.