Justin Jefferson Can Make History Tonight

Justin Jefferson
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Most NFL experts and fans — even Minnesota Vikings faithful — don’t expect the purple team to down the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football.

Minnesota is a six-point underdog and hasn’t won a Thursday Night Football game on the road in 45 years.

Justin Jefferson Can Make History Tonight

Only a few believe the upset is possible, including ESPN’s Dan Graziano, who picked the Vikings to topple the Eagles under the lights of primetime.

So, one will need subplots if the game goes pear-shaped, and wouldn’t you know it? Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson has one — he needs just 25 receiving yards to become the fastest player to 5,000 receiving yards in NFL history.

Can Make History
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

That’s right. The phenom playmaker has accrued 4,975 receiving yards in 51 career games, and if he connects on 25 yards through the air in Week 2 or Week 3, he’ll surpass Odell Beckham’s fancy mark of 5,000 receiving yards in 54 career games.

Beckham now plays for the Baltimore Ravens, and his breakneck pace via stat collection has plunged in recent years.

Somebody Was Out
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Unless the Vikings encounter an utter horror film — like last year at Lincoln Financial Field — Jefferson should own the mark with ease. Tallying less than 25 receiving yards would likely indicate after the fact that the Eagles smoked Minnesota. We shall see.

Jefferson banked 150 receiving yards in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a rather Jeffersonian statline to start his fourth season, although most of his damage occurred in the 1st Half. Tampa Bay seemed to “figure Jefferson out” after halftime, and unsurprisingly, in light of Jefferson’s quiet 2nd Half, the Vikings lost, 20-17.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The 24-year-old was visibly upset on the sidelines after the Vikings loss in Week 1 and was asked after the game if his feelings regarding the team + his contract had changed, and he replied, “I have the same mindset as I had before. At the end of the day, all I can do is play football. And that’s what I continue to do. I know my team.”

“My team doesn’t care about the contract, you know? And I don’t either. I just want to be here for my teammates, play for my teammates, and, of course, get these wins,” Jefferson added.

The Vikings front office and Jefferson’s representation worked all offseason to engineer an extension, to no avail as of September 14th, and both parties amicably agreed to revisit the discussions next offseason when the young wideout can fetch an even larger contract.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

“I hate losing,” Jefferson added.

A win may be difficult to come by on Thursday night — the Eagles are one of the best teams in football — but Jefferson should leave Pennsylvania with the first-to-5000-receiving yards record.

The Vikings have won three straight Thursday Night Football games, albeit they occurred at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.