The Minnesota Vikings may not have the national respect yet this season, but with Kevin O’Connell taking over as head coach, they are certainly expected to take steps forward offensively. Justin Jefferson is a betting favorite from oddsmaker Bovada.
After a 1,400-yard receiving performance in his rookie season, Justin Jefferson stepped up massively for an encore during 2021. Jefferson managed 1,616 yards in an antiquated Mike Zimmer offense. The Minnesota wide receiver could still assert himself as among the best talents throughout the league.
Online sportsbook Bovada has taken notice, and at 7/1, Jefferson is the odds-on favorite to lead the National Football League in receiving yards this season. A year ago, Cooper Kupp held that title when he put up 1,947 receiving yards on 145 receptions. Maybe surprisingly, it’s Kupp who is the favorite (4.5/1) to lead the league in receptions once again this year (Jefferson is second at 6/1). What that says is Jefferson should be expected to compile more yardage on fewer catches.
For Jefferson to make the leap and lead the league in yardage, he’ll need a relatively significant leap in opportunity. A season ago, Jefferson was targeted 167 times, hauling in 108 of those passes. That was roughly 40 targets more than his debut season, and he bumped his receptions up by 20 year after year.
There should be a significant expectation that the Vikings offense looks drastically different this season, and that comes mainly from the belief that the passing game is more prominently featured. If O’Connell wants to assert himself as a Coach of the Year candidate, Minnesota wants to make a surprise run at being a contender, or Kirk Cousins is to enter any possible MVP discussion, it will all revolve around just how prolific the ball can fly.
Since stepping onto the field for his first start a couple of seasons ago, Jefferson has displayed an unwavering level of confidence. He’s long drawn the opposition’s most talented cornerback, and he’ll continue to get shadow treatment as his career continues. None of that has derailed what has become a freight train barreling down the tracks towards success. While the accolades will get tougher to come by, any reason to believe he would stop rising to the occasion seems misguided.
Put another challenge in front of the man, and expect a Griddy in the end zone to be a final result.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.