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NFL Week 7 hot reads: Chris Johnson revives career with Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) watches

Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) watches during warmups prior to an NFL football game agains the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. Credit: AP / Rick Scuteri

Just a few months ago, running back Chris Johnson's NFL career looked like it was over.

After a nondescript season with the Jets, when he rushed for a career-low 663 yards as a backup to Chris Ivory, Johnson was shot in the shoulder in a drive-by shooting in Orlando in March. A close friend, 28-year-old Dreekius Johnson (no relation), was killed in the incident.

Chris Johnson went unsigned until the middle of training camp, when the Cardinals gave him a tryout and took a flier with a one-year contract. Even then, things didn't look promising; Johnson tweaked a hamstring and was limited in practice.

But Johnson now finds himself enjoying a career renaissance. He leads the Cardinals with 445 yards and two rushing touchdowns, and is on pace for 1,187 yards.

He has so impressed the team that general manager John Keim is now considering a contract extension.

Players questioning Rex

Rex Ryan is just six games into his tenure as the Bills coach, but already players are sounding off. And unlike his tenure with the Jets, when players swore by his defensive schemes, two star players have voiced discontent.

Both defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus have complained about being dropped into coverage too often instead of rushing the passer.

Even when Ryan's record went south in New York after two straight AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons, no one ever questioned his system. It's something to keep an eye on, as Ryan has not yet built up the kind of equity with the players and fans in Buffalo that he had with the Jets.

Digital history

The Bills and Jaguars face one another today in London in the first NFL game to be live-streamed on a worldwide digital platform. The NFL and Yahoo! have partnered in the venture to bring the game to a global audience, free of charge.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: "Through this partnership with Yahoo! -- one of the world's most recognizable digital brands -- we are taking another important step . . . as we continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving digital media landscape."

The NFL also announced this week that at least two games will be at Wembley Stadium through the 2020 season. That doesn't preclude the possibility of a team actually being placed in London, although that's not expected to happen before the current deal expires.

Pats rule the AFC East roost

The Patriots have the best division record of any team over the past five-plus seasons, going 25-6 against AFC East opponents. Their .806 winning percentage beats the Packers (.790) and Colts (.758) in that span.

And it's not just the recent past that the Patriots have dominated division play. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have won more division titles (12) than any other coach/quarterback combo in NFL history, and Belichick's .669 career winning percentage in the AFC East ranks fourth among head coaches since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Only George Allen (.700), Bud Grant (.688) and Tom Landry (.687) have a better winning percentage.

Red zone alert

Here's one of the best stats of the year, courtesy of the NFL: Six teams have scored at least 110 points when they reach the red zone (the opponents' 20-yard line and in). The combined record of those teams: 30-4. The Bengals (6-0) lead the NFL with 152 red zone points, as Andy Dalton has enjoyed the best start by far of his NFL career. The Cardinals (4-2) are next with 146 points, and then it's the Patriots (5-0) with 137; the Falcons (5-1) with 120; the Packers (6-0) with 116; and the Jets (4-1) with 110.

Quick hits

Through six weeks, 27 of 91 games (29.7 percent) have been decided by a fourth-quarter comeback. That puts 2015 on pace for the second-highest percentage of fourth-quarter comeback wins since the 1970 merger. The record is 31.3 percent in 1989 . . . If the Patriots and Panthers win Sunday, there would be five teams at 6-0, the most in NFL history. In 2009, there were four 6-0 teams . . . Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 43 yards away from reaching 55,000 career passing yards. He's fifth overall behind Brett Favre (71,838), Peyton Manning (71,215), Dan Marino (61,361) and Drew Brees (57,649) . . . Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has passed for at least 350 yards in three straight games, including a team-record 503 yards last week against the Packers.


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