The Minnesota Vikings are the hottest team in the NFL, and they’ve done it all without the help of their best player.
Minnesota has won five consecutive games since Justin Jefferson strained his hamstring against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 8. The wide receiver landed on IR following that injury, which required him to remain out at least four weeks.
The Vikings chose to hold him out again against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, November 12, but Jefferson could be back as soon as next week against the Denver Broncos. Upon initial examination, doctors told the team Jefferson would likely miss between 4-6 weeks because of the strain. Next Sunday will be six weeks to the day since that diagnosis.
That’s a scary thought for the teams listed on the Vikings’ upcoming schedule, and one Jefferson reminded the world of via social media following his team’s victory over the Saints.
I can not wait to get on the field with this team again!!!😝😝😏
— JJETS✈️ (@JJettas2) November 12, 2023
“I can not wait to get on the field with this team again!!!” Jefferson posted to X.
Justin Jefferson Was NFL’s Leading Wide Receiver Before Hamstring Injury
The NFL has grown to the point that each weekend is a spectacle unto itself. In that frenzied context, it can be easy to forget and/or dismiss what you saw just a few weeks back because it feels like so much has happened around the league since.
Amid the Vikings’ winning streak and the emergence of wide receivers A.J. Brown and Tyreek Hill as viable MVP candidates, it is easy to forget that Jefferson led the NFL in receiving through four games with 543 yards yards.
At that rate, Jefferson was on pace to smash Calvin Johnson’s single-season record of 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson achieved that in 16 games, whereas Jefferson could theoretically have played in 17. But even under the old regular-season structure, Jefferson still would have been on pace for almost 2,200 yards, clouding Brown’s and Hill’s MVP candidacies in plumes of his proverbial dust.
Vikings QB Josh Dobbs Can Reach New Heights with Justin Jefferson in Lineup
Any team is going to improve dramatically when a talent like Jefferson returns to the lineup, as is any quarterback.
Another impressive element of the Vikings’ win streak is that they’ve won the last two games without quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins tore his Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers on October 29. Prior to that, he led the NFL with 18 passing touchdowns and was one his way to a third consecutive Pro Bowl.
Minnesota traded with the Arizona Cardinals for Josh Dobbs two days after Cousins’ injury, and the match has been magic in the two weeks since. Dobbs led the team to a comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons despite minimal knowledge of the offensive playbook or any of his teammates. He only played in that contest because rookie Jaren Hall left the game with a concussion in the first quarter.
On Sunday, in his first official start with the Vikings, Dobbs held off the visiting Saints by completing 23-of-34 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed the ball 8 times for 44 yards and a score.
The return of Jefferson to the lineup should allow Dobbs to elevate his game to an even higher level, as the Vikings continue the march through the most winnable stretch of their schedule.