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Tom Johnson fills expanded role

Tom Johnson took a circuitous route to the Vikings, but is taking a quicker path to opposing quarterbacks.

The defensive tackle has thrived as Minnesota's nickel rusher since joining the Vikings as a free agent in 2014. An injury to Sharrif Floyd led to Johnson starting at Detroit. He recorded one of the Vikings 7.0 sacks of Matthew Stafford and filled the gaps well.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports the "three-technique spot" is a role that fits Johnson well.

"I definitely feel like my play speaks for itself," said Johnson, who has started three of 62 career NFL games. "Some people think that I'm underrated, but if they watch film, they see that I dominate when I'm out there playing. My job is to go out there and dominate the guy in front of you."

Johnson, 31, has shown signs of doing that since joining the Vikings in 2014. Although he started just two games last season, he was second on the team with 6-1/2 sacks. He set a goal this season of eight sacks but is behind that pace with two in six games.

Playoff probability's Ben Goessling took a look at numbers from analytics site Five Thirty Eight that show Minnesota's win at Detroit "improved their chances of reaching the playoffs to 46 percent."

Goessling wrote:

With their win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings climbed to two games over .500 for the first time since they last reached the playoffs in 2012. It's a modest achievement that probably shouldn't trigger playoff talk yet, but we're going to make an egregious jump of the gun and go there anyway.

The Vikings have won both games since their bye and are trying to improve to 5-2 on the year by winning at Chicago (2-4) this weekend.* *Goessling added:

The Vikings' strength of schedule at this point is just .341, and the teams they've beaten have a combined win percentage of .214. That's not something for which the Vikings necessarily need to apologize, considering all five of the NFC's other winning teams have a strength of victory under .400. Their easiest *path to the playoffs would still be to stockpile wins over the next three weeks -- a tricky home game against the Rams and a trip to Oakland are up next after the Bears game -- and weather a tough stretch of the schedule that includes the Packers, Falcons, Seahawks and Cardinals in 3 1/2 weeks.


Eventually loose

Jason Gonzalez of the Star Tribune broke down the anatomy of Adrian Peterson's 75-yard run against the Lions, the fifth-longest rush of his career, in a play of the week* *segment. Gonzalez wrote:

*Star running back Adrian Peterson had just 19 yards on 10 carries midway through the third quarter. It was the second consecutive week the opposing defense had successfully shut down the Vikings' best weapon, though it was reported that Peterson was ill before Sunday's game. *

Peterson looked more than fine when he finally found a hole big enough to run for the fifth-longest rush of his career. He broke away for a 75-yard gain with 8:14 left in the third quarter to help set up another Vikings' field goal and 25-17 lead. He finished with 98 yards on 19 carries.

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