5 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers – Week 12

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph /
3 of 6
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings /

Jefferson won’t see an increased role

The Vikings’ passing attack took a hit when Adam Thielen was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. Although there was some hope he would play, early reports suggest the star receiver will be out on Sunday, clearing the path for Justin Jefferson to take a bigger role.

As Pro Football Focus’ second-graded receiver behind Davante Adams, this would seem like a solid strategy to get the most out of their offense. However, that may not happen.

Last year, Stefon Diggs took over for Thielen when he went down with a hamstring injury. While Diggs had success, he didn’t turn into the target monster you would expect, averaging 6.8 targets per game including two games where he only received five targets.

Since cracking the starting lineup in Week 3, Jefferson has fared about the same with 6.6 targets per game. There’s a chance that Jefferson will see the ball more, but it’s more likely that Kubiak would try to force the ball to Irv Smith Jr., Bisi Johnson, or even Chad Beebe to make up for Thielen’s absence.

This would be a poor decision, but the master of the 2nd & 10 run might not make a major adjustment against Carolina’s weak secondary.