As Doug Martin has made his inexorable climb up the NFC’s rushing and yards-from-scrimmage leaders over the last month, he has had one ace in the hole against the few players still in front of him: A game in hand. Now Martin will get a chance to play that card in Week 11, and he may emerge as the top man in at least one of those categories.
Here are the top three players in the NFC in rushing yards after 10 weeks:
|1. Adrian Peterson, MIN||10||1,128||7|
|2. Marshawn Lynch, SEA||10||1005||5|
|3. Doug Martin, TB||9||862||7|
And here are the top three players in the NFC in yards from scrimmage after 10 weeks:
|1. Adrian Peterson, MIN||10||1,283||7|
|2. Doug Martin, TB||9||1,158||8|
|3. Marshawn Lynch, SEA||10||1,142||5|
You may have noticed that we have put one column of numbers in bold (and we threw in touchdowns just for the heck of it). Both Peterson and Lynch play for teams that drew the latest possible bye; Minnesota and Seattle are half of the four teams that will get this weekend off, and then the byes will be over and every week will feature a 16-game slate (hurray!). As such Peterson and Lynch have both played one more game than the Buccaneers’ rookie sensation.
So here is Martin’s chance. While Peterson and Lynch enjoy a weekend of rest and recuperation, Martin can take a crack at their conference-leading numbers, and perhaps force himself more prominently into the Pro Bowl debate. (The Pro Bowl issue is why we are focusing on NFC numbers here, but it should be noted that the same three players are at the top of the yards-from-scrimmage chart even when it is expanded to the entire NFL.)
How high could Martin climb this weekend? Well, he would seem to have the best shot at catching Peterson in that second table. The rejuvenated Viking back has a 125-yard lead over Martin in total yards from scrimmage, which is certainly a reasonable goal for the Buccaneer rookie. Martin has produced at least 119 yards from scrimmage in each of his last five games, and has averaged 171.6 per game in that span. Yes, that average is spiked by his incredible 272-yard day in Oakland, and another outing like that is unlikely to come along Sunday, but 125 yards in Carolina would surprise no one.
As for the rushing yardage chart, Martin may not make a big move up the list, but he could certainly pull within closer striking distance. He is 143 rushing yards behind Lynch and 266 behind Peterson. Again, Martin has a 251-yard rushing day on his resume already, but since there have only been 11 of those in NFL history it would be unwise to bet on another one. But Martin also had 135 yards in Minnesota in Week Eight, and another game like that would have him, at worst, nipping at Lynch’s heels with six games to play.