We are officially three-fourths of the way through the 2020 regular season. The season takes forever to startup as the gap between the Super Bowl and the first game of the following season is about seven months. Elements like fantasy football and daily sports gambling make players crave for the next game more than a casual fan as there is more opportunity and enjoyment to come if the outcome reflects positively in their lineups favor.
With four weeks left only four teams have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so far; the still winless Jets, Bengals, Jaguars and Chargers. That number will likely double after this upcoming week as teams with about a 1% chance to make the playoffs will likely be eliminated as well. Be honest Texans, Broncos, Panthers and Falcons fans, your team is very unlikely to win four-straight games and finish with a .500 record. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only team to lock up their Division, and the Saints have at least secured a playoff spot. With tight races of one game leads or less in the AFC East and South along with the NFC West and East, there are still plenty of chances for teams to pull away or overtake each other. The Vikings are surprisingly a team still in the hunt given their 1-5 start to the season, and a little help from this wide receiver.
Justin Jefferson- WR (MIN)
Before every week I think to myself 'I will not write about Jefferson and give the spot light to some other players'. Then he goes and catches nine receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Nothing against Jefferson – I actually have him in fantasy – and enjoy watching him play, I just don’t want this recap to get repetitive. However, what he has been able to accomplish this year is special and needs to be talked about. After his outing against the Jaguars, Jefferson has passed 1000-receiving yards this season making him the first Vikings rookie receiver to do so since Randy Moss back in 1998.
That is elite company, and a fantastic way to start an NFL career. Jefferson has cemented himself in the Rookie of the Year conversation with his play, and with a somewhat favorable schedule ahead, expect more production from him to come.
After being torched by Jarvis Landry and Jefferson inn back-to-back weeks, the Jaguars are officially the worst defense in the NFL on a yards per game basis, per ESPN stats (Seahawks fans rejoice). Most of Jefferson’s catches were short quick passes on slants and curl routes, but was able to flip the field on this deep pass from Kirk Cousins for 40-yards.
Justin Jefferson. Is. So. Damn. Good!!pic.twitter.com/xX8ri34YGy— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) December 8, 2020
This led to a C.J. Ham touchdown on the next play. On the Vikings next drive, Jefferson ran a beautiful route getting at least two yards of separation from the cornerback on his break and scored this beautiful 20-yard touchdown, his seventh of the season.
Jefferson is now second in receiving yards through 12 games in NFL history, behind Odell Beckham Jr. All other players in the top four went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Most rec yds by a rookie WR in his first 12 games in NFL history:Odell Beckham (2014) - 1,305 rec ydsJustin Jefferson (2020) - 1,039 rec ydsAnquan Boldin (2003) - 1,032 rec ydsRandy Moss (1998) - 1,014 rec ydsBeckham, Boldin & Moss each won Offensive Rookie of the Year— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 6, 2020
Jefferson also has 310 more yards receiving then the next closest rookie wide receiver, Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins, per ESPN stats.
Russell Gage-WR (ATL)
Being behind both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on the wide receiver depth chart, and possibly the fourth or fifth option when he is on the field, Gage’s production will never stand out compared to other wide receivers as he remains in Atlanta. However, if compared to last year, there has been improvements in his game. For instance, after Sunday’s loss to the Saints, Gage has matched his career high in receptions and has set career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns, numbers that will continue to improve over the last four games of the season. His second touchdown of the season came on an out-route near the goal line, in what turned out to be a close game between the Saints and Falcons.
Atlanta with a 4-8 record is very unlikely to make the playoffs in a very tight NFC playoff race. Given the position they find themselves in during games, often down by multiple scores expect a few more productive weeks from Gage as the season wraps up.
Patrick Queen-LB (BAL)
The Ravens wrapped up week 12 Tuesday night with a win over the Cowboys, improving to 7-5 and one game back of the 7th seed. Queen has had a very productive season for the Ravens leading the team in total tackles and locking down the center of the field. Queen also recorded his first career interception as Andy Dalton pass with tipped at the line of scrimmage.
The following play Lamar Jackson threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to put the Ravens up 14-10. The Ravens defense is 8th best in the league in yards allowed following Tuesday nights performance and 13th in rushing defense. Queen and the Ravens will play Monday night against the 2nd best rushing offense, the 9-3 Cleveland Browns. The Browns are still in contention for the AFC North following Pittsburgh’s loss to the Washington Football Team, so expect a physical matchup between the Ravens and Browns.
With four games left, and plenty of divisional matchups there will be a lot of physical games to played to wrap up the season. Notable ones include the Patriots-Rams , Chiefs-Dolphins, Vikings-Bucs, Cardinals-Giants, Colts-Raiders, Steelers-Bills and Ravens-Browns. It also fantasy playoffs, so if you made it this year, good luck!