2010-2011 NFL Season Preview: Top 5 Running Backs in the NFL

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Here is a list of the Top 5 Running Backs in the NFL heading into next season:

1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Last season the Tennessee Titans went through a pretty drastic transformation as they went from one of the worst teams  in the league to start the season and arguably one of the most promising to finish it.

One of the main reasons for their Titans second half success last season was quarterback Vince Young getting back into the starting lineup and the emerge of arguably the best running back in the league in Chris Johnson.

With over 2,500 total yards (2,006 rushing, 503 receiving) and 16 total touchdowns (14 rushing, 2 receiving), Chris Johnson officially surpassed Adrian Peterson as the number one back in this league.

Next season Johnson will not be making the money wants to ($550,000), but his paycheck will be performance based as the promising young running back has the opportunity to make $2 million dollars on top of his current contract. Not only is that something that will strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenses next season, but the Pro Bowl also said that he will be aiming at rushing for 2,500 yards.

 

2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Over the past couple of seasons, the Minnesota Vikings superstar running back slowly, but surely made the league forget about LaDainian Tomlinson. Not only did AP surpass LT as the best back in the NFL, but now he is getting the football handed to him by arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all-time in Brett Favre.

With the addition of Favre, the offense has completely opened up for Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings as they have put more points on the board and won a lot more football games.

This has benefited AP more than any other player on the team as his touchdown total has gone through the roof (18 rushing touchdowns). Peterson’s rushing yards may be down (1,383) and fumbles way up (seven fumbles, six lost), but he is still a serious force to be reckoned with out of the Minnesota backfield and will continue to be next season.

 

3. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

Last season the Atlanta Falcons looked like a promising young team heading into the season with a possible run at the Super Bowl on the horizon.

Unfortunately, even though they still finished the season with 9-7 record, the Falcons missed the playoffs, but were absolutely ravaged by injuries that kept them from contending with the likes of the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the NFC South division.

Despite only playing in eight games throughout the entire season last year, Michael Turner still put up some impressive numbers as he rushed for 871 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

As long as he is healthy next season, Turner should torch opposing defenses once again and could be the league top rusher ahead of Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson.

 

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars are arguably one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Jaguars might not be as bad as the Detroit Lions or the Cleveland Browns, but every single season they seem to disappoint as they just can’t contend with the best of the best in the AFC Conference.

Not only are the Jacksonville Jaguars in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL (AFC South), they only have one real threat to opposing teams in the form of running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Last season Jones-Drew put up some monster numbers as he finished the season with 1,765 total yards (1,391 rushing, 374 receiving) and 16 total touchdowns (15 rushing, one receiving). Without Jones-Drew, Jacksonville is dead in the water, so next season I fully expect him to put up some impressive numbers once again.

 

5. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

Over the years, the Baltimore Ravens have really struggled on offense and really made a name for themselves in the NFL strictly because of their lockdown defense, but times are changing in Baltimore as their offense could be amongst the best in the league next season.

One of the main reasons for the Ravens recent success on offense was the emergence of quarterback Joe Flacco, but the one big surprise last season was running back Ray Rice.

The Ravens may have come a couple games short of the Super Bowl last season, but they high hopes for the future with Ray Rice coming out of the backfield who finished the year with 2,041 total yards (1,339 rushing, 702 receiving) and eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving).

Obviously, Rice’s touchdown production needs to go up in order to be a serious threat to opposing defenses, but next season I believe he will be amongst the best in the league coming out of the backfield and could be considerably higher on this list next year.

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