The Seahawks running back just registered his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game in Seattle's 32-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns. In fact, he's built on every performance since rushing for just 52 yards in the Seahawks' lone loss of the season (to the Saints back in Week 3), racking up 104, 118 and 124 ground yards in the ensuing weeks. That latest figure, which came on 24 carries at an impressive 5.2 yards a pop, represents a career high. Carson physically imposed his will on Browns defenders -- no surprise, as the 'Hawks back is one of the hardest runners in the NFL today.
Seattle hasn't lacked hard-nosed runners this decade. Does a player by the name of Marshawn Lynch ring a bell? Maybe this will help. Like Beast Mode, the 5-foot-11, 222-pound Carson is in a system that perfectly fits his bruising, downhill running style. Carson explodes through the A and B gaps at the line of scrimmage and is consistently able to plow through the teeth of the defense thanks to his dynamic leg drive. He regularly breaks tackles, having gained at least 100 rushing yards after contact in each of the last three weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. That's a feat the rest of the running backs in the NFL have combined to accomplish just three times this season.
Carson isn't the only hard runner in the league right now. Here are three other backs who deserve mention:
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens: Now in his ninth season and first with the Ravens, Ingram showed off his tremendous strength several times against the Bengals in Sunday's 23-17 win, including a fourth-quarter, 12-yard gain in which he broke multiple tackles. He does a great job running behind his pads and has done so for his entire career. I don't think I've ever seen him fall backward after getting hit.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins: Peterson is as aggressive a runner as he was as a rookie in 2007. There's no slowing this guy down and it appears that the 34-year-old has several seasons left in the tank. Peterson is the type of player who drives his knees hard when he runs to try to blow through defenders. He's successful more than he's not, which explains why he'll end up in Canton when all is said and done.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: Henry's size alone stops defenders in their tracks. The 6-3, 247-pounder runs with a low pad level and is almost impossible to tackle in space. I look at Henry like a locomotive. It might take him a minute to get going -- his long strides and physique make it a challenge to squeeze through holes -- but he's hard to stop once he starts chugging. Last December's jaw-dropping 99-yard touchdown run was a perfect example of this -- after making it past the line of scrimmage, he fought off three defenders on his way to the end zone.
Now, let's get to the weekly rankings ...
Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2018 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 7.
With a pair of touchdowns in last week's win over the Bucs, McCaffrey's 2019 production compares favorably through six games to the numbers posted by each of the last three running backs to win the MVP award: Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson. McCaffrey and the Panthers have a week off before taking on the NFC's best team Week 8 in San Francsico.
Cook has scored at least one rushing touchdown in five of the Vikings' six games this season. He didn't pile up his usual numbers against a tough Eagles run defense, but I don't see Cook being limited every week.
It's too bad Zeke couldn't get some help because he had a helluva game in Dallas' loss to the Jets. He got into a good rhythm and racked up 152 scrimmage yards, his most since Week 14 last season.
Kamara's typically one of the most dangerous guys out of the backfield, but his numbers just haven't supported that the last few weeks.
In the wake of Jacksonville's low-scoring loss to New Orleans, it kinda feels like the Minshew Mania wave has come and gone. What still remains is the Jags' most consistent player in Fournette, who registered more than 110 scrimmage yards for the third straight game.
The first-year Raven already has more rushing touchdowns than he did in the entire 2018 season, and is on pace to surpass his career-best 12 rushing scores in the 2017 campaign. The contrasting running styles of Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is eighth in the league in rushing yards, and the fact that each player is effective, is what makes the Ravens' offense so dynamic and hard to defend.
Bell has been more productive in two games with Sam Darnold under center than without, which comes as no surprise. Last week against the Cowboys, it was refreshing to see the Jets have some offensive balance and production, including from Bell. Teams will still load the box when Bell's in the backfield, but Darnold's presence definitely relieves some of the burden.
Lindsay cracks the list for the first time this season after helping his team win back-to-back games. The second-year back has more scrimmage yards (544) and scrimmage touchdowns (4) through six games this season than he did in this span during his Pro Bowl season as a rookie.
Hyde stuck it to his former team with a season-high 116 rushing yards against the Chiefs. His touches have increased over the last two weeks, and he's becoming a mainstay on a unit that's clicking as midseason approaches.