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Vikings’ WR Justin Jefferson has a legit shot at being MVP

Will Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson be the first WR to win MVP?

Will Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson be the primary WR to win MVP?
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The NFL’s MVP Award has been round since 1957. In that point, fullbacks have gained the award 4 occasions. Two defensive gamers have been given the dignity, and even a kicker has taken home the hardware. Zero move catchers have gained the award although, and for essentially the most half, none have gotten significantly shut.

Cooper Kupp put up one of many best receiving seasons of all-time in 2021 and solely mustered one vote. Jerry Rice completed second in voting in 1995, however nonetheless fell 59 votes in need of Brett Favre. He acquired 15 votes in 1993, and completed third in voting, behind his quarterback Steve Younger in addition to Emmitt Smith. The closest Rice obtained although was in 1987 when he recorded 22 touchdowns in simply 12 video games. Nonetheless, Rice completed six votes shy of John Elway.

The disrespect to pass-catchers has been immeasurable, however in 2022, Vikings’ third-year receiver Justin Jefferson has an opportunity to finish the discrimination as soon as and for all, and I feel he’s obtained a fairly first rate shot.

As of proper now, based on OddsChecker spokesperson Kyle Newman, Jefferson is being given +15000 odds to win the MVP this yr. That ties him with superstars Jared Goff and Sam Darnold, in addition to another notable non-QBs like Nick Chubb, Dalvin Prepare dinner, and Christian McCaffrey. Nonetheless, these odds nonetheless appear extraordinarily low given the circumstances Jefferson finds himself in.

The Vikings did away with Mike Zimmer through the offseason, and changed him with former Rams’ offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, the identical Kevin O’Connell who orchestrated Kupp’s large 2021 breakout season. Nonetheless, Jefferson is arguably a greater match for O’Connell’s offense than Kupp was. Each receivers do quite a lot of work from the slot. Jefferson lined up within the slot on almost 20 percent of his snaps in 2021. That’s a methods off from Kupp’s utilization final yr (52.Four %), but when O’Connell desires his offense to look something just like the Rams’ did in 2021, we are able to anticipate a big uptick in Jefferson’s slot share subsequent season. Second, Jefferson would solely must see a 4 % improve in goal share to match Kupp’s mark from final season. That’s not an unthinkable determine.

Furthermore, where Kupp had to compete for targets with guys like Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. last season, the main competitor for Jefferson in 2022 will be 32-year-old Adam Thielen. Thielen is coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career (in terms of yardage), and his touchdown rate (10 TDs on 67 receptions) is unsustainable. Those touchdown passes have to go somewhere, and even with the return of Irv Smith Jr., Jefferson is far and away the most reliable option for Cousins, just as Kupp was the most reliable option for Stafford.

Now, you might be thinking: “Sure, but Stafford is a much better quarterback than Cousins.” Correct. Kupp also didn’t have to face Jaire Alexander twice last year. I’m not expecting Jefferson to take as massive a leap as Kupp did. Kupp recorded career-bests in every major receiving category. He increased his reception total by 54 percent (94 to 125). He bettered his career-best yardage total by 67.7 percent (1161 to 1947). He increased his touchdowns by 60 percent (10 to 16). I’m not expecting that monumental a leap in every category, but if I’m being generous and divide each of those percentages in half, that would still give Jefferson a line of 137 receptions, 2244 yards, and 13 touchdowns. I don’t care how stubborn a voter you are, breaking the all-time receiving yards record by nearly 250 yards is going to get you some MVP hype. The receptions and touchdowns could be better, but like I said, I was being generous with those percentages. If O’Connell decides to use Jefferson anything like how he used Kupp last season, those numbers could be much greater.

Lastly, the MVP award voters often give an edge to playoff teams. If you’re that good, why can’t your team make it to the playoffs? I’m not saying the Vikings are a guaranteed playoff team, but their division is one of the weakest in football with both the Lions and Bears projected to be near the top of the draft next April. Plus, the Packers lost Davante Adams. We don’t know how that offense is going to look. All that amounts to the Vikings probably doing better than they did last year when they missed the playoffs by two games. The Cardinals will probably be worse. The Cowboys will probably be worse. The 49ers are a question mark until we see Trey Lance do well. There are several reasons to believe the Vikings will reach the postseason. Will they go 16-1 like Colin Cowherd predicted? No.

But there’s no reason to think the Vikings can’t go 11-6 or 12-5 and secure the NFC’s second or third seed.

Obviously, the MVP is a quarterback’s award to lose. Brady, Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, and Rodgers (even without Adams) are all the clear-cut favorites to win the award. While you might think that a monumental rise from Jefferson would only give voters more of a reason to vote for Cousins, keep in mind that Stafford didn’t get any votes last season. Kupp did though.

At +15000 odds, Jefferson might be one of the sneakiest MVP picks this year. Those odds are insane, especially when you consider that Cousins is being listed at +4000. It would take a massive push, but if any receiver can finally break the curse, it’s going to be Jefferson.


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