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Lunchbreak: Justin Jefferson Named 'Dark Horse' NFL MVP Candidate for 2022

There currently are 11 players – all quarterbacks – listed with odds greater than 20-1 to be named the 2022 NFL MVP. But ultimately, no one can be certain of who will win, and you never know when someone will come out of the woodwork to compete for the honor.'s Adam Schein recently ranked nine “dark horse” candidates, including Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, whom he slated eighth on the list. Schein wrote:

Perhaps the Vikings receiver doesn't get enough credit for being one of the truly elite offensive players in the game today. If so, that's a shame. I've voted him first-team All-Pro in both of his NFL seasons. I mean, look at this production:

Year 1: 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns

Year 2: 108 catches for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns

Minnesota can surprise people this year with a great new head coach and a fresh infusion of new energy. Jefferson is an alpha dog. His impact goes beyond even his gaudy numbers.

The three players topping Schein's list of dark horses were Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, Colts quarterback Matt Ryan and Titans running back Derek Henry.

If Jefferson or Henry were to win, it would be the first instance since Adrian Peterson in 2012 of a non-QB claiming the honor.

The Vikings will face Ryan this season when they host the Colts in Week 15. Indianapolis traded this offseason for Ryan, a 2008 first-round pick who spent the first 14 seasons of his pro career in Atlanta and won the 2016 NFL MVP award.

Ryan is up in age – in fact, [Tuesday was] his 37thbirthday – but I believe the four-time Pro Bowler has plenty of gas left in the tank. The fresh start will help. So will having Jonathan Taylor in the backfield, as well as a great offensive line and a fantastic defense. Ryan sorely missed those ingredients last year in Atlanta. Indy had 'em but lacked leadership and stability at quarterback. Problem solved! Ryan has carved out a Hall of Fame career, and I'll fight anyone who disagrees with that sentiment. I think he leads the Colts back to the postseason via a division title, enjoying a sizzling campaign under center. That's value.

CBS Sports highlights 'good and bad' of every team's 2022 schedule

The Vikings 2022 schedule was released last week, and there always are plenty of opinions about the order of home games, road trips and the bye.

CBS Sports' John Breech, who also recently pointed out "schedule quirks" across the league, noted the "good and bad" of every team's upcoming regular-season schedule.

In Minnesota's case, the pro and con pertained to respective clumps of matchups. Breech wrote:

One good thing for the Vikings: Starting in Week 13, the Vikings will play three games in a four-week span against teams that won 4 games or less last season (Lions, Jets, Giants).

One bad thing for the Vikings: Starting in Week 10, the Vikings play three straight games against teams that made the playoffs last season (Bills, Cowboys, Patriots).

View photos of the Vikings 2022 schedule at U.S. Bank Stadium and on the road.

Worth mentioning, as well, are Breech's notes about Minnesota's NFC North rivals.

Breech said the Bears luck out by having "the latest bye possible this year (Week 14)" and also play three of four games at home to end the season following their break. On the flip side, though, Chicago meets immediate challenges in San Francisco and Green Bay to start the season.

One good thing for the Lions: Starting in Week 10, the Lions will start a span where they'll play seven games in eight weeks against teams that didn't make the playoffs last year. It's a stretch where the Lions could pick up a few surprising wins.

One bad thing for the Lions: Starting in Week 5, the Lions will play four straight games against teams that all finished 2021 with a winning record and picking up a win in just one of those games won't be easy.

One good thing for Green Bay: The Packers get to close the season with three of four games at home, which is good news for a team that went 8-0 at home last season.

One bad thing for Green Bay: The Packers are going to have a brutal travel schedule starting with their Week 5 game in London. After flying home from England, they'll face the Jets at Lambeau before going on a three-game road trip. It will be one of the most brutal travel stretches of the year for any team.