Entering the 2022 NFL season, Minnesota Vikings superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson was the odds-on favorite to lead the league in receiving yards. He had broken just about every early career record he could hope for to this point and now finds himself in a battle with the Miami Dolphins Tyreek Hill.
Before the regular season started in 2022, former Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill forced his way out and wound up in Miami. Now not working with Patrick Mahomes and instead developing chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa, Hill has exceeded all expectations. Whatever concerns there may have been that Tua would not be able to throw the deep ball vanished. Through 12 weeks, Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,233.
His margin is minuscule, however, because Minnesota Vikings deep threat Justin Jefferson exists.
Following the Thanksgiving game against the New England Patriots, in which Jefferson went off for 139 yards, he has tallied 1,232 yards on the season. With six fewer receptions and 81 total thus far, Jefferson trails Hill by only a single yard. Both players have had their bye weeks, and it will be a six-week race to the finish.
When trying to handicap who will ultimately emerge victorious, the two players have arrived to their totals in dramatically different ways. Through 11 games, Jefferson has posted at least 100 yards in seven contests, and he nearly topped the 200-yard mark in a showdown against the Buffalo Bills. Hill has just five games where he has surpassed 100 yards receiving, but he avoided a true flop akin to Jefferson’s 14-yard output against the Detroit Lions.
Looking ahead, it’s hard for the Vikings not to salivate regarding the opposing defenses they’ll see. New York has an impressive pass rush and does well on the corners, but like New England the week prior, it could be held at bay if they get behind. From there, Minnesota sees all three division foes on the road, none of which are good defensively. The Indianapolis Colts come to town with a poor unit, and while the New York Giants are a good team, they, too, travel to U.S. Bank Stadium.
On the flip side, the Dolphins last bottom-feeder was this past weekend in the Houston Texans. They face a strong San Francisco 49ers unit before traveling across the country to meet the Chargers. Buffalo still gets Miami at home, and while Green Bay is sprinkled in, the Patriots and Jets loom late to finish the season. On paper, it would seem certain that Hill will face a much tougher task to continue racking up yards.
Both players remain on track to top 2,000 yards receiving this year. Even with the additional game added a season ago, no one has previously been able to surpass Calvin Johnson’s NFL record. We may see two wideouts do it in 2022, but the hope would be that Jefferson winds up on top.
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.