For a while it looked like Adrian Peterson would be the cherry on top of the Vikings’ incredible 2016 regular season Sundae. He would come back to the Vikings when he was 110 percent healthy, in mid-December, when the Vikings would have the NFC North locked up.

But Minnesota has now lost three games in a row, and most of the blame lies with their stagnant offense – which has produced a pathetic average of 12.0 points per game in that stretch.

Now, the Vikings are absolutely desperate for Peterson’s return. A knight in shining armor scenario is highly unlikely before Thanksgiving, as December has consistently been marked as “best case.”

“It is still going to be a while before it’s safe for him to run,” Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman told ESPN’s Lisa Salters last week. “Sometimes it’s our job to protect them from themselves so he doesn’t do too much too soon.”

The Vikings have Thursday games back-to-back coming up – at the Lions on Thanksgiving Day and home against Peterson’s hometown Cowboys on Thursday, Dec. 1. Vikings brass may soon be asking if AP could be ready for that date as it will surely factor in to the NFC playoff picture.

A more prudent course of action would be to wait until the Jaguars game – 10 days after the Dallas game - on Sunday, Dec. 11.  Here’s what the rest of Minnesota’s schedule looks like:

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Colts

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24 at Packers

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 vs. Bears

 

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots

The Patriots are in the exact opposite situation with their dynamic running back, Dion Lewis. They can afford to keep Lewis on the bench this Sunday against the Seahawks as they own the best record in the AFC at 7-1 and are well-rested off a bye. No doubt, Bill Belichick will only unleash Lewis when he’s caught up to speed and when he’s absolutely needed. Don’t be surprised if Lewis dresses for the Seattle game – and against San Fran and the Jets in the weeks that follow – but only sees three or four snaps each game.

If I were to wager on it – I’d expect that we won’t see full-fledged Lewis until Week 15 in Denver (Sunday, Dec. 18). The Pats almost always struggle in the Mile High city and Belichick will want to give the rival Broncos a different look in that one.