'Tebow Time' falling back to Earth

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag every Monday and Wednesday. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: With the severity of Adrian Peterson's injury, do you think the Minnesota Vikings have to re-evaluate their offensive strategy? It seems like Joe Webb could be Tim Tebow-lite? Should they use him more?

-- Jeff (North Carolina)

A: Don't believe that's the issue, Jeff. The issues now are getting Peterson healthy -- and what a blow that is to Minnesota -- as well as developing Christian Ponder and drafting well. Webb won't be the answer to what ails Minnesota. He can have a role, and the Vikings can design specific plays around him in a Slash-type of way. But to think that Webb is capable of saving this franchise with a package designed for him sounds like a bit much.

Q: Adam, what has happened to Tebow the last couple weeks? Is he human after all? Are defenses doing anything in particular to stop him now?

-- Fred (Illinois)

A: He's turning over the football, Fred; that's the biggest difference. He has had eight turnovers while the Denver Broncos have been forced to play from behind. Now, the New England Patriots did something interesting that other teams have not. They had a defender hit Tebow on many of his running plays, and hit him hard. They didn't worry whether he pitched the ball; they worried about leaving a mark with Tebow, and they did. New England also took a big lead, as the Buffalo Bills did, wiping out Denver's running game and putting Tebow in a position where he had to throw. And that's not going to work, as we've seen. When Tebow has played well, he hasn't turned over the football. He hasn't looked to take many chances, either, but he has played it safe, and it has worked. What Denver has done the past two weeks hasn't worked, and the Broncos need to turn it around Sunday versus the Kansas City Chiefs -- or else.

Q: Do you think that the New York Jets will make the playoffs? And if not, is Rex Ryan on the hot seat at all after all his grand proclamations?

-- Tina (California)

A: Tina: I actually think the Jets' chances are a bit better than people think. To make the playoffs, the Jets have to win, the Cincinnati Bengals have to lose, the Tennessee Titans have to lose or tie and the Oakland Raiders or Broncos have to lose or tie. With the Bengals playing the Baltimore Ravens, the Titans playing the Houston Texans, the Raiders playing the San Diego Chargers and the Broncos playing the Chiefs, it's not unthinkable that the Jets could backdoor their way into the playoffs. They need a lot of help from others -- probably too much in the end -- but it's not out of the question. And no, if the Jets fall short, Rex Ryan will not be on the hot seat. Remember, the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game in each of the past two seasons. But there will be that much more pressure on Ryan next season.

Q: If the Bengals make the playoffs, shouldn't Marvin Lewis get coach of the year? Cincinnati was thought to be the worst team in the NFL before the season.

-- Jacob (Washington)

A: He absolutely should be in the running, Jacob. But what the San Francisco 49ers are doing this season makes Jim Harbaugh the coach of the year. The 49ers are on the verge of clinching a first-round bye with a victory Sunday, which would be huge for a franchise that has struggled so much in recent seasons. How many people thought the 49ers would be this relevant and competitive with Alex Smith at quarterback? What Lewis has done has been very impressive, and if the Bengals can win Sunday and make it to the postseason, he needs to be considered. But the vote here would be for Harbaugh. The Niners have been really impressive -- and they're not done yet.

Q: Do you think the Pittsburgh Steelers or Ravens are in better shape going into the playoffs? Ben Roethlisberger is injured, but the Ravens are maddeningly inconsistent.

-- Devin (Pennsylvania)

A: Those are the issues with both teams, Devin, and those are enough to raise major concerns. If Roethlisberger were healthy, an argument could be made that the Steelers just might be the most dangerous AFC team out there. And that's the thing about that conference now -- each team is flawed. The Patriots' defense has major questions, the Ravens are as inconsistent as you mentioned, the Texans lost their quarterback and the Broncos or Raiders don't look strong enough to compete with the heavyweights. But one of these teams will get on a roll in the next couple of weeks -- it's just hard to predict which one. If Roethlisberger were healthy, I'd say the Steelers. But keep in mind that they might have to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl. They're tough enough to do it, but that is a very tall order for anyone.