Justin Jefferson Needs 3 Things to Happen for Serious MVP Consideration

On the fringe of the NFL’s MVP conversation resides Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, a man with 1,232 receiving yards through 11 games.

Jefferson’s MVP odds are faint as of November 30th, but he is the highest-ranking non-QB to possibly win the trophy, with 80 to 1 odds. It could happen — and here’s how.

1. Hit 2,000+ Yards

Purple Rumor Mill: Jefferson Makes History, Odell Beckham, Kene Nwangwu's Pace
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

MVP voters need a thing or symbol to vote for Jefferson, much like Russell Westbrook winning the NBA MVP in 2017 after averaging a triple-double. Or, in 2012, Adrian Peterson crossed 2,000 rushing yards, acting as the smoking gun for voters to think, “Okay, yeah. I can defend my case with this.”

A 2,000-yard WR season — the first of its kind — is the affidavit the NFL needs to invest MVP votes in a wide receiver. No wideout has ever won an MVP award, and no non-QB has won the chip since Peterson in 2012. Perhaps every decade, the NFL will get funky and hand the thing to a non-QB.

Yes, for vibes — Jefferson needs to hit 2,000+ receiving yards, and voters will subsequently sniff his candidacy.

Jefferson is currently on pace for 1,904 yards and 9 touchdowns.

2. Vikings Stay in No. 2 Seed

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Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If the 2020 or 2021 Vikings were showcasing this ultra-productive, 2000-yard-barrelling Jefferson, MVP votes would be irrelevant. The league doesn’t give the award to players on losing or middling teams. It just doesn’t. This isn’t MLB and Alex Rodriguez in 2003.

Jefferson faces an uphill battle simply because he doesn’t throw the football — he doesn’t need the hassle of trying to win the award with a meh 10-7 record.

The Vikings must remain in the No. 2 seed inside the NFC’s playoff hunt. They’re unlikely to catch the Philadelphia Eagles unless the Eagles fall upon harsh times. In that case, Minnesota seizing the No. 1 seed would really dress up Jefferson’s resume.

But realistically, the Eagles don’t resemble a team sitting on a tumble, so Minnesota must keep the second seed and end the season with a 14-3, 13-4, or 12-5 record. Winners win MVPs. Not wildcard participants who collapse in December.

3. Finish ahead of Tyreek Hill

Nov 27, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports.

This thing for WRs is a two-horse race. Don’t get it twisted.

Jefferson cannot and will not win the MVP if Tyreek Hill has more receiving yards. Why? Because the NFL would just give the hardware to Hill, because — why not? Hill leads Jefferson in receiving yards by one — yes, one single yard.

Jefferson v. Hill is an all-out sprint, and if one or both men achieve 2,000+ receiving yards, the leader on the team with the better record could actually grab the MVP.

There is no universe where Jefferson finishes second in receiving yards but still wins the award. He must hit all three parts of this faux plan.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).