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Can Vikings’ Justin Jefferson become first in NFL history with 2,000 receiving yards in a single season?

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Among all the records that exist in the NFL, 2,000 yards in a single season stands out among the crowd. There have only been eight running backs in league history to accumulate 2,000 yards on the ground in a single season. Hitting that benchmark presents multiple rewards coming in various forms like nicknames (CJ2K for Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson), a new contract, hardware (Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards), and immortality (four of the eight are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Adrian Peterson a lock to join that group one day). Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson announced to Twin Cities local media at the end of July that he thinks he can be the first at his position to total 2,000 receiving yards in a single campaign.

“I hope so,” Jefferson told the Pioneer Press on July 25. “I think I can. Hopefully, everything goes right and I can get that 2,000 [receiving yards]. That’s my goal. That would be big, just breaking the record my rookie year [most receiving yards by a rookie] and then breaking a record in my third year, that would be crazy for me. That’s going to be a goal for me, for sure.”

His confidence isn’t unfounded. Jefferson leads the NFL with 3,016 receiving yards over the past two seasons since being selected 22nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. This represents the most receiving yards in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history. His 196 career catches are tied for the most in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history with New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (2016-17). Jefferson needs 1,148 yards in 2022 to set the NFL record for the most in a player’s first three NFL seasons, a record set by another Vikings wide receiver, Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who had 4,163 receiving yards from 1998-2000.

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Most receiving yards since 2020

* 2020 was Justin Jefferson’s rookie season

Jefferson has been the featured target in Minnesota, having been thrown to on 27.5% of his team’s pass attempts since 2020 with only new Las Vegas Raiders receiver Davante Adams (29.7) and Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs (27.7) having a higher percentage in the span of Jefferson’s career. With a career yards-per-catch average of 15.4, the highest in the NFL since 2020 among players with a minimum of 150 catches, Jefferson would need about 130 receptions this upcoming season if he were to post that as his 2022 figure. His current career high is his 2021 season total of 108 receptions on 167 targets. 

The current single-season receiving yards record holder is Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, the former Detroit Lion, who utilized an NFL single-season record nine games with over 120 receiving yards in 2012 en route to the record of 1,964. He averaged 122.8 receiving yards per game, 16.1 receiving yards per catch, while playing all 16 games and hauling in an NFL-high 122 receptions on 204 targets that season. The toughest part of becoming the first wide receiver to 2,000 receiving yards is the required sustained level of excellence across an entire season. What led to the player known as Megatron falling short of 2,000 yards was he had four games, a quarter of his season, with fewer than 80 receiving yards. With the second-best pass catcher on that Lions team being tight end Brandon Pettigrew and the team’s lead running back being Mikel Leshoure, defenses were able to focus on, and for brief spells, slow down Johnson throughout the course of his legendary 2012 season. 

Last season, 2021 Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp totaled the second-most receiving yards (1,947) on the second-most catches (145) in a single season in NFL history, while also leading the NFL in touchdown receptions (16) and targets (191). Kupp’s 2021 has a great case as the best single-season performance by a wide receiver, as he became one of four to win the receiving triple crown (lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in the same season) in the Super Bowl era joining Steve Smith (2005), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Jerry Rice (1990). He was remarkably consistent, recording over 90 receiving yards in 16 of his 17 games played, including in 13 consecutive games (longest such streak in NFL history). What likely kept Kupp from reaching the 2,000-yard mark is he didn’t have the single-game highs of Johnson’s (six games of over 140 yards) as he only had two games with more than 140 yards.

Cooper Kupp 2021 single-season, all-time WR ranking

Receptions

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145

2nd

Receiving yards

1,947

2nd

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Games with 90+ yards

16*

1st

Fantasy points 

439.5

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1st

* 90+ yards in final 13 regular-season games (longest such streak in NFL history)

The moral of both Johnson’s and Kupp’s close, but not quite runs at 2,000 receiving yards: you need to be essentially flawless. Fortunately for Jefferson, he now has one of the architects of Kupp’s 2021 season as his new head coach and play-caller to help him figure out how to do it, former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. 

“Absolutely,” O’Connell said when asked on NBC Sports’ Pro Football Live in March if he planned to make Jefferson his new Kupp. “The one thing about Cooper Kupp this past season is he lined up in a lot of different spots. It was hard for defenses to really know where he was. He did a lot of different things. He had an impact in a lot of phases of our offense beyond just catching a lot of balls and scoring a lot of touchdowns. There was a huge role for Cooper because of his willingness to be completely solidified in every phase, both the run and the pass.”

In Jefferson’s former offense that was run by the staff of traditional, defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer, Jefferson lined up outside in a typical No. 1 wide receiver spot on 75% of his offensive snaps in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. Minnesota also utilized formations with three wide receivers on 53.8% of its plays, the eighth-lowest rate in the league. The Rams ran three wide receiver sets on 85.6% of their plays, the highest usage in the NFL. O’Connell plans to incorporate more pass-friendly formations into Minnesota’s offense, adding more unpredictability to the Vikings’ passing game and their predictable top receiving option in Jefferson.

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“I see that with Justin [Jefferson], I see an incredible, incredible skill set, but I also see a player we can move around,” O’Connell said. “We can make it hard for defenses to know where he’s going to be. He doesn’t have to line up in the same spot all the time. He doesn’t have to run the same type of routes all the time. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s willing in the run game. This guy’s a special, special player. I loved him a couple years ago when he was coming out of the draft. We [Los Angeles Rams] obviously weren’t in a position to possibly get a chance to coach him. You still go through the process. You see the traits, you see the skill set. He’s really just grown from Day 1.”

After going back and watching film of the Rams’ offense and the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP, Jefferson knows he’s going to have plenty of opportunities as O’Connell’s new passing game muse. 

“Just watching Rams highlights and tape of so many different plays that Coop made, I now see why Coop was so wide open so many times,” Jefferson said in a training camp sit-down with NFL Network. “I was always at home thinking about, ‘why is this man wide open’, he’s the main target, but he’s always wide open. Now, I see it going over the different plays and installs, seeing the different routes that he ran. It’s so wonderful being in this type of offense now, especially not being in that style of offense. It’s definitely exciting to see.”

Unlike Johnson and Kupp to a certain extent, with the early injuries to Rams running back Cam Akers and then-Rams wide receiver Robert Woods last season, Jefferson should be surrounded by more offensive talent than either of the previous closest players to 2,000 yards, which makes it harder for opponents to zero in on him each week. 

“I think he’s [Jefferson] got an incredibly bright future, he’s already a superstar in this league in my mind and no better way to build your offense obviously through the lens of a quarterback first and foremost always, but when you have a weapon like that [Jefferson] in addition to [wide receiver] Adam [Thielen], [tight end] Irv [Smith], [running back] Dalvin [Cook], our great guys up front on the offensive line. It’s been fun to study,” O’Connell said. “Justin Jefferson’s going to have a huge role in our offense and continue to ascend in this league. Cannot wait to start coaching him.”

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Jefferson himself hasn’t been able to contain his enthusiasm when talking about the juxtaposition in the run-focused attack under Zimmer and his staff versus the more pass-friendly scheme O’Connell is importing from the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. The Vikings ran the football 43.5% of the time since 2020, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. In Jefferson’s first two seasons, Minnesota passed on 56.5% of their offensive plays, which was the 10th-lowest rate in the NFL. However, the Rams’ 36.3 pass attempts per game ranked as the ninth most in the NFL. 

“It’s [the Vikings’ offense] not a run-first offense anymore,” Jefferson said, when appearing on NFL Total Access NFL Network on June 24. “Just us being able to put different people in different positions and distributing the ball, really. I’m so excited in this offense, us just learning the plays, going through it with our defense and stuff. We’re all excited, we’re all happy to have [O’Connell]. It’s definitely a different vibe and different connection in the building with him there.”

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At 23 years old and entering his third NFL season, Jefferson has taken the initial first steps toward what he hopes will be a career capped with a bust in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Becoming the first to 2,000 receiving yards in a single season would be a selling point on his NFL career resume. Simply breaking Johnson’s single-season mark of 1,964 would increase his chances of ending up in Canton significantly as Johnson was able to get in on the first ballot despite only playing nine professional seasons, which left his career totals lower than the usual standard. 

“I want to accomplish so much, it’s an endless list that I want to accomplish,” Jefferson said. “At the end of the day, I want to be a Hall of Famer. So, in order to reach that position, that position is so much more that I have to accomplish, so much more that I have to set for myself to better myself and really to learn. I just can’t wait to really just see how far I can really go. This is just the start of my career, and there’s just so much more I have to learn, so much more I have to do for myself to really get on that platform of being a Hall of Famer.”

The next big checkpoint in his NFL career is the second contract, which Jefferson will be eligible to negotiate and sign with the Vikings following the conclusion of the 2022 season, his third in the league. Adams (five years, $140 million) and new Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (four years, $120 million) reset the market for wide receiver contracts at 29 and 28 years old, respectively. If Jefferson rewrites the single-season receiving yards record at his age this season, the numbers on his next contract could make Adams’ and Hill’s look like bargains. 

“I mean, I hope so,” Jefferson said to CBS Sports in August when asked about potentially becoming the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. “Right now, I’m mostly focused on the season, just trying to get back to that winning record, being in the playoffs, getting to that big goal [2,000 receiving yards], reaching the Super Bowl and winning it. But of course, I would like to be one of the highest paid, for sure.” 

Having logged a first two seasons like none other in NFL history, don’t be surprised if O’Connell’s presence in Minnesota helps Jefferson eventually summit the NFL’s pass-catching Mount Everest, completing a season with 2,000 receiving yards. 

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Blue Jays vs. Red Sox preview: Toronto trying to hold off Rays, Mariners 

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The Toronto Blue Jays have clinched a playoff spot, but still have much to play for as they open their final home series of the regular season against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. 

The out-of-contention Red Sox officially punched the Blue Jays’ post-season ticket by beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 on Thursday, an off-day for Toronto. 

Now, the Blue Jays are trying to stay ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners for first in the wild-card race, which would allow Toronto to play its best-of-three first-round series at home starting Oct. 7. 

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Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Red Sox series. 

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Probable pitchers 

Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (15-7, 2.31 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Nick Pivetta (10-11, 4.48 ERA) 

Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET / 12:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (9-4, 3.16 ERA) vs. Boston RHP Brayan Bello (2-7, 4.39 ERA) 

Sunday, 1:37 p.m. ET / 10:37 a.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.30) vs. Boston TBD 

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All games on Sportsnet. 

Latest on the Blue Jays 

The Blue Jays (87-69) lost two of three to the visiting New York Yankees earlier this week. 

After a dramatic 3-2, 10-inning win in the opener on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s walk-off single and Gausman’s strong start, the Blue Jays didn’t get the same kind of starts from Jose Berrios and Mitch White and dropped the next two. 

Aaron Judge’s AL record-tying 61st home run of the season highlighted a series-ending 8-3 win for the Yankees on Wednesday. 

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The Yankees also clinched the AL East crown with a 5-2 win on Tuesday. 

Latest on the Red Sox 

The out-of-contention Red Sox (74-81) did the Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners a favour by taking three of four from the Orioles. 

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie on Thursday, propelling the Red Sox to a 5-3 win. 

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Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi pitched 4 2/3 innings, making his first appearance since going on the injured list on Aug. 23 with a sore right shoulder. He allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits while striking out three. 

The Red Sox won 10 of 19 against the Orioles this year, taking the season series for the fifth year in a row. 

Playoff watch 

With six games left, the Blue Jays are 1.5 games in front of Seattle and two games ahead of Tampa Bay for top spot in the wild-card race. 

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The top finisher hosts the No. 2 team in the first round, while the No. 3 team goes to Cleveland to face the Guardians. 

Toronto must finish ahead of Tampa and Seattle to get first as it does not own the tiebreaker. 

The Rays are in Houston to face the AL-leading Astros this weekend, while the Mariners host the last-place Oakland A’s. 

Season series 

The Blue Jays are a dominant 13-3 against the Red Sox this year. 

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Toronto is a perfect 6-0 against the Red Sox since the All-Star break with all the wins coming at Fenway Park. 

The highlight was a franchise record for runs in a night when the Blue Jays pounded the Red Sox 28-5 on July 22. 

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Marquee matchup 

Manoah squares off against Victoria’s Pivetta in the opener – the same pitching matchup that took place on June 29 at Rogers Centre. 

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Both starters were good in no-decisions that night (Manoah gave up three runs, two earned, in seven innings and Pivetta allowed two runs in six innings) before the Red Sox won 6-5 in an exciting 10-inning game. The Red Sox scored three in the 10th before the Blue Jays fell just short with two. 

Up next 

The Blue Jays wrap up their season with three games in Baltimore against the Orioles, starting Monday. 

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Middle Tenn. vs. UTSA: How to watch online, live stream info, game time, TV channel

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Who’s Playing

UTSA @ Middle Tenn.

Current Records: UTSA 2-2; Middle Tenn. 3-1

What to Know

The UTSA Roadrunners are 3-1 against the Middle Tenn. Blue Raiders since November of 2015, and they’ll have a chance to extend that success Friday. The Roadrunners and Middle Tenn. will face off in a Conference USA battle at 7:30 p.m. ET at Johnny (Red) Floyd Stadium. Both teams have set a high bar for this game after stand-out offensive performances in their previous games.

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Everything went UTSA’s way against the Texas Southern Tigers last week as they made off with a 52-24 win. QB Frank Harris was a one-man wrecking crew for UTSA, passing for four TDs and 392 yards on 31 attempts in addition to rushing for one TD and 31 yards. Near the top of the highlight reel was Harris’ 69-yard TD bomb to WR De’Corian Clark in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Middle Tenn. was hampered by 82 penalty yards against the Miami (FL) Hurricanes last week, but luckily for them that wasn’t the tale of the game. Middle Tenn. came out on top against Miami (FL) by a score of 45-31. QB Chase Cunningham had a stellar game for the Blue Raiders as he passed for three TDs and 408 yards on 25 attempts in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown. Cunningham’s 98-yard touchdown toss to WR DJ England-Chisolm in the fourth quarter made for one of the most memorable moments of the afternoon.

The Roadrunners are the favorite in this one, with an expected 4.5-point margin of victory. They have failed bettors playing the spread in their past two games, so buyers beware.

UTSA is now 2-2 while Middle Tenn. sits at 3-1. A pair of numbers to keep in mind before kickoff: UTSA enters the contest with only two thrown interceptions, good for 34th best in the nation. But the Blue Raiders enter the game having picked the ball off six times, good for 11th in the nation. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Johnny (Red) Floyd Stadium — Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Live Stream: CBSSports.com or fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Watch on your Phone: CBS Sports App
  • Watch on Connected TV: CBS Sports App on Roku and Fire TV
  • Ticket Cost: $23.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a 4.5-point favorite against the Blue Raiders, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 5.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

UTSA have won three out of their last four games against Middle Tenn.

  • Sep 18, 2021 – UTSA 27 vs. Middle Tenn. 13
  • Sep 25, 2020 – UTSA 37 vs. Middle Tenn. 35
  • Nov 05, 2016 – UTSA 45 vs. Middle Tenn. 25
  • Nov 28, 2015 – Middle Tenn. 42 vs. UTSA 7



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Boise State vs. San Diego State live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

San Diego State @ Boise State

Current Records: San Diego State 2-2; Boise State 2-2

What to Know

The San Diego State Aztecs and the Boise State Broncos will face off in a Mountain West clash at 8 p.m. ET Sept. 30 at Albertsons Stadium. San Diego State isn’t expected to win, but seeing as the odds didn’t stop them last game, maybe the squad has another upset up their sleeve.

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Things were close when the Aztecs and the Toledo Rockets clashed last week, but San Diego State ultimately edged out the opposition 17-14. San Diego State can attribute much of their success to RB Jordan Byrd, who rushed for two TDs and 115 yards on 16 carries. That nimble footwork stands out as the first time Byrd has hit the 100-yard rushing mark this season. Byrd’s sharp performance also set his single-game rushing touchdown high for the season.

San Diego State’s defense was a presence as well, as it collected three interceptions and one fumble. Those interceptions were spread across their defensive unit.

Meanwhile, Boise State was first on the board but had to settle for second at the end of their matchup against the UTEP Miners last Friday. The Broncos took a hard 27-10 fall against UTEP. This was hardly the result Boise State or its fans were betting on, as they were favored by 16.5 points over UTEP heading into this game. No one had a standout game offensively for Boise State, but QB Hank Bachmeier led the way with one touchdown.

San Diego State’s win brought them up to 2-2 while Boise State’s loss pulled them down to an identical 2-2. A couple defensive numbers to keep in mind before kickoff: San Diego State enters the contest with only three rushing touchdowns allowed, good for 29th best in the nation. As for the Broncos, they rank 13th in the nation when it comes to passing yards allowed per game, with only 159.8 on average.

How To Watch

  • When: Friday at 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: Albertsons Stadium — Boise, Idaho
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $29.00

Odds

The Broncos are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Aztecs, according to the latest college football odds.

The line has drifted a bit towards the Broncos, as the game opened with the Broncos as a 5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

San Diego State have won two out of their last three games against Boise State.

  • Nov 26, 2021 – San Diego State 27 vs. Boise State 16
  • Oct 06, 2018 – San Diego State 19 vs. Boise State 13
  • Oct 14, 2017 – Boise State 31 vs. San Diego State 14



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