MINNEAPOLIS -- With Pro Bowl voting now open, the NFL's yearly popularity contest is in full swing.
This year, the NFL has retooled the Pro Bowl. Rather than one game featuring the league's fan favorite players, the 2023 Pro Bowl Games will be a "week-long celebration of player skills that features a new format spotlighting flag football."
At 8-1, the Minnesota Vikings have no shortage of players that could be headed to Las Vegas in February. Here are the top four candidates, with the first one being fairly obvious.
WR Justin Jefferson
Jefferson is the type of player tailor-made for the Pro Bowl: In addition to having immense statistical success, he's eminently likable. Even if he wasn't coming off ofin the midst of another record-setting season, he might make it on charisma alone.
But Jefferson's case as a player matches that of his personality. This season, he's second in receiving yards (1,060) and first in receiving yards per game (117.8). He had a touchdown drought for a while, but has now caught one in each of his last two games.
Jefferson surely has his sights set higher -- after making second-team All-Pro in each of his first two seasons, he's on pace to earn a first-team nod this year. But the odds on him making the Pro Bowl are as close to a sure thing as you can get.
LT Christian Darrisaw
Darrisaw, in his sophomore season, has given the Vikings something they haven't had in more than a decade: a great left tackle. He's been an absolute mauler protecting Kirk Cousins' blindside.
Pro Football Focus has him graded as the best offensive lineman in the league. He hasn't allowed a single sack all season, per PFF, and he's taken only one penalty in 578 snaps.
On top of his stellar play, Darrisaw has mounted a social media campaign to get elected to the Pro Bowl. On Tuesday, he offered signed jerseys to the first 10 fans to show evidence of their vote on Twitter.
Edge Za'Darius Smith
Smith has been far and away new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's most impactful signing. The former Green Bay Packers linebacker has not only impressed on the field, he's been one of the key difference makers in the culture shift the Vikings have undergone.
Smith's 9.5 sacks are tied for second-most in the league, and he is tied for first in tackles for loss with 14. He's had at least half a sack in all but two games and two multi-sack games.
But Smith's real value to the Vikings is his energy. In just a few games, he's undeniably become one of the faces of the franchise, featuring heavily in their marketing and social media. He's always in on team celebrations and is very vocal on the sidelines. Aside from Jefferson, Smith is the team's most likely Pro Bowl candidate.
CB Patrick Peterson
While Peterson is far from the shutdown cornerback he once was, he's having somewhat of a resurgent season.
The highlight, of course, was hison Sunday. Both of his picks came in the end zone, and the second sealed the Vikings' win in overtime.
Peterson's been making big plays all season. In the week eight win over the Arizona Cardinals, a perfectly positioned Peterson tipped away a would-be touchdown from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins. His first interception of the year halted a Miami Dolphins comeback attempt in week six.
The 32-year-old Peterson already his three interceptions this season, with eight games remaining. He's only had more than three picks once, in 2012. He's had three picks in four separate seasons, and will likely surpass that this season for the second-highest total of his career.
Peterson is an eight-time Pro Bowler, and he may add a ninth this season.
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