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Lunchbreak: Thielen & Jefferson Have Vikings 'in Full Stride'

The 6-6 Vikings hold the No. 7 NFC Wild Card spot as they head into Tampa Bay this weekend hoping to keep their name in the postseason field.

After starting out 1-5, Minnesota has bounced back and continued to fight. The upswing is in part thanks to the Vikings offense finding its groove and receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen logging big plays and impressive stats.

CBS Sports' Dan Schneier highlighted the receiver duo in his “Numbers to Know” from Week 13:

The number 12 is a big one for Minnesota Vikings receivers after their 27-24 overtime win versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. Let's talk about Justin Jefferson first, since he's the star rookie. He's now just the fifth player since the NFL merger to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards (1,039) in his first 12 games. Odell Beckham, Jr., is the most recent player to accomplish this feat (2014). Jefferson racked up 121 yards on nine receptions against the Jags, including a 20-yard score that put Minnesota ahead by three late in the third quarter.

Jefferson has a bright future ahead of him, but you can't forget about veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen. He leads the team with 12 touchdown receptions after scoring on a 3-yard strike from Kirk Cousins on Sunday. Thielen joins Randy Moss and Cris Carter as the only players in Vikings history to record 12-plus TD receptions in a single season. It took Minnesota a couple of months to find its footing after starting the season 1-5, but Thielen and Jefferson now have the team in full stride at 6-6.

Schneier included two other NFC North numbers of note, highlighting Bears returner (and former Viking) Cordarrelle Patterson and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

According to Schneier, Patterson reached "a unique career milestone" featuring the number eight during Chicago's 34-30 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

With his 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Patterson became the only player in NFL history with at least eight career rushing touchdowns, eight career receiving touchdowns and eight* career kickoff return touchdowns.

And 400 is the number for Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers threw his 400th career touchdown pass in a 30-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback is the fastest player ever to reach the milestone, hitting it in his 193rd career game. Rodgers currently leads the league with 36 touchdown passes and has now eclipsed the 35-touchdown mark in five different seasons (NFL record).

Jefferson remains one of PFF's highest-graded rookies

It's the kind of repetition we don't mind: Jefferson is good at football.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus rolled out its weekly grades for all 2020 first-round draft picks, and Jefferson once again is among the highest-touted rookies after his impressive performance against the Jaguars.

Jefferson, whom the Vikings selected in April with the 22nd overall pick, has an overall PFF grade this season of 90.0. Sam Monson wrote:

No rookie receiver has made a bigger impact than Justin Jefferson, who is arguably the front runner for overall rookie of the year at this point in the season. He caught nine of the 11 targets sent his way against Jacksonville for 121 yards and a touchdown. He lost out deep down the field at the catch point on a contested play and was flagged later for offensive pass interference in what very well could have been a response to the earlier failure.

Jefferson continues to produce at an elite level and trails only Davante Adams this season in yards per route run (2.87).

Also worth noting is the praise given to Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs, whom the Vikings will face at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Wirfs was tabbed by the Bucs 13th overall out of Iowa. Since Tampa Bay had a Week 13 bye, Monson reposted his review of Wirfs coming out of Week 12:

If offensive linemen didn't toil in obscurity, Tristan Wirfs would be the Offensive Rookie of the Year so far. Wirfs didn't have his best game against the Chiefs, but he came out of the contest having allowed zero pressures on 45 pass-blocking snaps and wasn't flagged for any penalties. He did have a pass protection rep loss, but the ball was gone before it had a chance to become pressure.

Overall this season, Wirfs has been one of the most solid members of a Bucs offensive line that has been hugely important toTom Brady'ssuccess. Even when that line has creaked, the problems haven't come from the right side, despite Wirfs facing a murderer's row of elite pass-rushers.