EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings fans are expecting Justin Jefferson to get the New Year started in a big way.
Minnesota will wrap up its 2020 season Sunday with an NFC North matchup at Detroit. The Vikings (6-9) and Lions (5-10) both have been eliminated from the postseason, but personal benchmarks are within reach for a handful of players.
For this week's Filtered by the Fans Twitter poll, we asked which offensive goal is most likely to be reached:
Jefferson needs 111 receiving yards for the NFL rookie record (47 for Vikings rookie record).
Adam Thielen needs three receiving touchdowns to reach 17 on the season and tie the franchise record set by Hall of Famers Cris Carter (1995) and Randy Moss (1998; 2003).
Kirk Cousins needs three passing touchdowns to reach 35, which would mark the second-most in a season by a Vikings QB (Daunte Culpepper had 39 in 2004).
In our biggest runaway poll yet, fans overwhelmingly voted for Jefferson to top the rookie record. More than 9,000 people voted, with 85.2 percent tabbing the former LSU standout.
Jefferson, whom the Vikings selected with the 22nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, already has written his name in team history. Earlier this month, he broke Moss’ franchise receptions record when he reached 70 catches on the season against Chicago.
He now enters Sunday's game just 47 yards away from surpassing Moss' 1,313 receiving yards in 1998.
"It definitely [would] be a big accomplishment," Jefferson said, "but as long as we're finishing strong this season, going out and getting that 'Dub' and having an overall good team win, that's all that really matters.
"I just go out there every game and play my heart out," he added. "I'm not really too, too big on stats and numbers. I just want to help my team win."
If Jefferson reaches 111 yards through the air at Detroit, he will break the NFL record of 1,377 set by Anquan Boldin in 2003.
Jefferson told reporters that he "definitely set goals" for himself entering his rookie campaign – 1,000 yards, six touchdowns and 60 catches – all three of which he's now outdone.
"To actually reach my goals and reach beyond my goals, I mean, that's something special," he said. "I've just got to keep going and keep building on my game and get better and better each season."
As far as the benchmarks within reach for Thielen and Cousins, it's fair to say it's uncertain whether the two will play (or play a whole game) on Sunday. The game is "meaningless," per se, although the Vikings have emphasized the importance of finishing on a high note.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer did not specify on Wednesday if any starters will be rested in Week 17.
If Thielen scores three times on Sunday, it would mark his first career three-TD game.
Cousins already has a career-high in touchdown passes with 32. Randall Cunningham threw 34 scores in 1998, so Cousins needs three passing touchdowns for the second-most in a Vikings season. He's thrown three scores in a game on 23 occasions in his career, including seven times for Minnesota this season. His single-game high is four passing touchdowns, which he's accomplished six times.
"We want to finish strong. I heard this morning that it's important that we don't view this as the last game of this year but really as the first game of 2021," Cousins told media members. "I think that will help us kind of focus on where we're headed, what we're trying to build and try to get 2021 started off on the right foot."