Vikings' Adrian Peterson on verge of major milestone

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It's all right there for Adrian Peterson now. One more game in his remarkable comeback season, and the only thing that remains on the line is everything.

A win against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday would put his Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs for the first time since the 2009 season. The milestones of 2,000 yards and Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record are there to be had as well, along with a potential MVP award.

"It's such a big game when you look at everything that can be accomplished," Peterson said Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to it, man. Most importantly, getting into the playoffs, securing that with a win against Green Bay. Having an opportunity to hit 2,000, having an opportunity to break Eric Dickerson's record in the same game, it would be great to accomplish."

Perhaps the only thing more improbable than the Vikings (9-6) sitting one victory away from a playoff berth is that they have been carried there by Peterson, who tore two ligaments in his left knee just over a year ago. He has already racked up a career-high 1,898 yards rushing this season, leaving him 102 away from becoming the first player to hit 2,000 yards on a reconstructed knee.

His inspiring recovery has galvanized a team that has been teetering on the edge of elimination and has put some of the biggest names to play the position in his corner as he runs toward history. Dickerson is on record as saying he hopes Peterson falls a little shy of his 2,105 yards rushing in 1984, but everyone from Jim Brown to Terrell Davis to Chris Johnson -- the most recent running back to rush for 2,000 yards -- have come out in support of his pursuit.

"So impressed by everything (at)AdrianPeterson has done this year," Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders tweeted recently. "Big fan of E.D. But really pulling for AP to break the record. Good luck."

Former Steelers C dies

Former Steelers center and coach Chuck Cherundolo died of heart failure Dec. 22 in Lakeland, Fla. He was 96. Cherundolo played for the Steelers in the 1940s, taking a break to serve in the Navy during World War II. In 2007, the Steelers named him to their legends team, representing the franchise's best players through 1970. Cherundolo was born in Old Forge, Pa. He played football at Penn State before beginning his professional career with the Cleveland Rams. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles for one season before joining the Steelers.

Sack chase

Defensive ends J.J. Watt of the Texans and Aldon Smith of the 49ers are chasing Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 set with New York Giants in 2001. Smith needs three sacks to equal Strahan while Watt needs just 2 1/2.

Milestones ...

With three TD runs of 80-plus yards season, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is tied with Chris Johnson and Barry Sanders for the most in a single season in NFL history. Charles is 44 yards shy of joining Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson as third Chiefs players to run for 1,500 yards.

... and records

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning can set a career high in yardage with 346 yards vs. Chiefs. His best is 4,700 in 2010. Manning needs 172 yards to pass Jay Cutler for most in season for Denver (4,526 in 2008).

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at Steelers (7-7) • 1 p.m. • The Bengals have lost 10 of the past 12 meetings with the Steelers, including the one in October in Cincinnati. And quarterback Andy Dalton is winless against them (0-3). But, unlike the Steelers, who have lost four of thei. Prediction: Bengals, 23-21

Oakland Raiders (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9) • 1 p.m. • The Panthers are making a late-season surge, winning three of five. The reason? In those past five, Cam Newton has 10 TDs and no INTs. Surprising? No more than the Raiders posting a shutout last week. Prediction: Panthers, 24-16

New Orleans Saints (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6) • 1 p.m. • The Saints were one of three teams to post a shutout last week. They will need more of that defense vs. Tony Romo. Dallas has won five of its past six and can secure a playoff spot with wins in its final two. Prediction: Cowboys, 30-28

Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (10-4) • 1 p.m. • One thing is certain: The Titans will face a much better QB against the Packers than they did Monday night against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is 24-2 and has thrown 64 TDs in his last 26 home games. Prediction: Packers, 34-10

Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Houston Texans (12-2) • 1 p.m. • The Texans remain in hunt for AFC's No. 1 seed, while the Vikings have surged into wild-card contention. The Texans must stop NFC rushing leader Adrian Peterson. The Vikings must stop AFC leader Arian Foster. Prediction: Texans, 31-20

New England Patriots (10-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) • 1 p.m. • The Patriots are probably still exhausted from trying to come back from that 31-3 deficit vs. the 49ers. Maybe some North Florida sun, and a leaky Jaguars defense, will help them rejuvenate. Prediction: Patriots, 40-20

Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) • 1 p.m. • With one more victory, the Colts will secure a wild-card spot and become the fourth team in league history to winxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 10 or more games following a season with two or fewer victories. Prediction: Colts, 27-12

Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-8) • 1 p.m. • It has been Christmas year-round with the Bills, especially their defense. They have allowed a league-high 402 points and given up at least 45 four times, including last week's 50-17 loss to Seattle. Ugh. Prediction: Dolphins, 34-23

Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-8) • 1 p.m. • It has been Christmas year-round with the Bills, especially their defense. They have allowed a league-high 402 points and given up at least 45 four times, including last week's 50-17 loss to Seattle. Ugh. Prediction: Dolphins, 34-23

San Diego Chargers (5-9) at New York Jets (6-8) • 1 p.m. • Still feeling good about the Steelers' playoff chances? Well, consider that the team that hammered them just two weeks ago xxxxxxxxxxxxwas soundly whupped at home last week by Carolina, 31-7.Prediction: Jets, 15-12

Washington Redskins (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-10)• 1 p.m. • The Redskins have surged to the top of the NFC East, even without injured Robert Griffin III. The Eagles hope RG3 stays out. He posted the only perfect rating (x158.3) by a rookie QB in the first meeting. Prediction: Redskins, 23-16

St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)• 1 p.m. • The Buccaneers have fallen apart, likely under the intensity applied by Greg Schiano. He will learn the NFL stands for Not For Long if he continues to coach with that rah-rah, all-hands-on-deck approach. Prediction: Rams, 20-19

Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Denver Broncos (11-3) • 4:05 p.m. • The Broncos have won a league-best nine in a row. What's xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxmore, Peyton Manning has never lost to the Browns (5-0). Are the Broncos the best team in the NFL? Maybe. Prediction: Broncos, 30-13

Chicago Bears (8-6) at Arizona Cardinals (5-9) • 4:25 p.m. • The Bears are taking a late-season nose dive for the second year, only this time it is with Jay Cutler. The Cardinals ended their nine-game losing streak with a resounding 38-10 victory against the Lions. Prediction: Bears, 21-15

New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5) • 4:25 p.m. • The Ravens have lost three in a row and are trying to give away the AFC North. The Giants should be suitably honked after being shut out by the Falcons. They get in the postseason by winning their last two. Prediction: Giants, 24-19

San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-5) • 8:20 p.m. • Seattle is the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games. It is one of two teams that are unbeaten at home (6-0), including wins vs. the Packers and Patriots. Prediction: Seahawks, 24-23

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