Justin Jefferson in Line for Hardware in 2022
This week the Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title for the first time since 2017. With four weeks left in the regular season, they also have a superstar wide receiver well positioned to pick up some accolades of his own. Justin Jefferson has now emerged as the betting favorite to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
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It’s not shocking that the Vikings Justin Jefferson would be up for an offensive related award. He currently leads the NFL with 1,500 yards through 13 games, and he’s got an outside chance to become the NFL’s first 2,000 yard receiver. He’s a dynamic talent that is beyond charismatic, and he’s leading a Minnesota Vikings team back into the playoffs.
When online bookmaker Bovada posted the latest odds, Jefferson was given the nod as favorite for Offensive Player of the Year. His +130 mark is quite a bit better than that of Jalen Hurts (+275) and Tyreek Hill (+275). Rounding out the top five are Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (+1200) and Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (+2200).
It’s not a given that the Offensive Player of the Year award is set aside for a quarterback, unlike the NFL MVP award is. In this case, only Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Hurts is among the top three, and Chiefs signal caller Mahomes makes it two in the top five. It’s not all that surprising to see just one running back at the top given the parity seen at the position across the league.
It stands to reason that Jefferson should be well positioned to hold off his competition here. Hurts has already been exceptional, yet lags behind slightly, and is more likely the favorite to win the NFL MVP award. Should he hold off the Dolphins Hill in a race for the league lead in receiving yards, Jefferson will have plenty to hang his hat on.
There has never really been a question this season in regard to how dynamic the Vikings offense is. Kevin O’Connell has seemingly pushed the ball to his playmakers for more aggressively than Mike Zimmer ever did. While Dalvin Cook remains involved, the predictability in play calling has eroded, and the talent now keeps defenses on their toes. Although there’s plenty to be done on the defensive side to take this team another step forward, everyone involved has to be happy with the capabilities on offense.
For Jefferson, he’ll also need to look back on the blossoming relationship with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Despite the signal caller not being nearly as sharp as he was a season ago, they have made the connection work and it has translated into gaudy numbers in the box score. Cousins has dialed in chemistry with his top wideout, and that’s allowed the two of them to generate some truly eye-popping connections.
Plenty can happen over the next four weeks, but with Minnesota already certainly in line for a playoff berth, it could be an opportunity for Jefferson to ratchet up his own individual efforts and see what heights the production can take him too. An Offensive Player of the Year award would be a nice hat tip en route to a Super Bowl appearance. Adding the league receiving title or breaking Calvin Johnson’s single season record along the way wouldn’t be a bad outcome, either.
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.