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Doug Martin has two games to get the NFL rushing title

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the second-leading rusher in the league in Doug Martin. The fourth-year back has rushed for 1,305 yards on just 256 carries for a 5.1-yard per carry average. That puts him nine yards behind Adrian Peterson, who currently leads the league.

That gives the Dougernaut the opportunity to do something no Buccaneer has done, ever: lead the league in rushing. Not even James Wilder, who got a then record-setting 407 carries in 1984 came in first -- that was the year Eric Dickerson set the all-time, single-season rushing yards record with 2,105. Martin isn't going to come close to that record, but he does have a realistic chance of overtaking Adrian Peterson, for three reasons:

  1. Adrian Peterson has just 140 rushing yards over the past three games, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. And that despite facing one of the most generous run defenses in the league in the Chicago Bears last week.
  2. Doug Martin has been outstanding in recent weeks, putting up 267 yards on just 54 carries in the past three games. He's also been remarkably consistent this season, going below 50 rushing yards in a game just twice. He's been outperforming Peterson in recent weeks, and it isn't particularly close.
  3. Martin faces an easy schedule, but so does Adrian Peterson. The Bucs face the run defense that has given up the seventh-most yards and the fifth-most yards per carry this week, though they do have to go to Carolina and face a defense that ranks sixth and fourteenth in those metrics in week seventeen. The Vikings face a defense that ranks 19th and 22nd in those statistics this week, and one that ranks 22nd and 26th the week after. The key factor may be which team is more likely to be willing and able to stick with the run, though, and the Vikings will find that difficult to do against the high-scoring Giants and Packers.
It's far from a slam-dunk that Martin will be able to take the rushing lead, and even if he takes it this week he may lose it when the Bucs head to Carolina in what could be an ugly blowout. But no Buccaneer has been this close to the rushing lead in arguably ever, so it's certainly something worth rooting for.