ATL Mailbag: Who will be the next AFC powerhouse?


Last Easter, Tim Tebow spoke at a church in Texas. During a time when Tebowmania was running wild, this was deemed to be breaking news of the century.

Tebow probably went to church again this Easter, but there was no Q&A in front of 15,000 rapt Christians. To fill that void on a lazy Sunday, the ATL Mailbag is back for a second straight day. Marc Sessler answered your questions on Saturday. Now it's my turn.

Call it, Weekend Mailbag 2: Still the Weekend. Let's do this.

Where do you think Brian Urlacher will land?
-- Tom Cottingham (@TomCott3)

It's always a possibility a team will bring in Urlacher for his veteran leadership, but how much football is left in his soon-to-be 35-year-old body?

I keep thinking back to his pick-6 against the Tennessee Titans last November, watching him lumber toward the end zone like, well, an old linebacker. It was like watching a late-period episode of "The Office" -- it looked familiar, but it wasn't the same.

Win a chance to announce a pick live at the 2013 NFL Draft. Enter now!

It's been a great career, but I think a retirement press conference happens before an introductory press conference.

How will the 2013 Baltimore Ravens' defense compare to the 2012 Ravens' defense?
-- Jordan Brownstein (@Jbrownstein1)

It's certainly been a jarring offseason for the Ravens' defense, which has lost several starters, including mainstays Ray Lewis (retirement) and Ed Reed (free agency). Change might not be a bad thing, however.

Let's not forget that Baltimore ranked just 16th in total defense last season, an appropriate designation given how middle-of-the-road the unit was. Elvis Dumervil -- and that "brick wall" on his shoulder -- was an inspired get. We trust general manager Ozzie Newsome to fill in the blanks.

As for your question: Will the 2013 compare favorably to the 2012 unit? Too soon to say.

Who's most likely to be the AFC powerhouse next year?
-- Jacob Alvin Jones (@AlvinJjones942)

Let's start by breaking out the teams that can win 12 games, which seems like a fair baseline for a powerhouse contender. To me, that list includes the New England Patriots, Ravens, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. I can be talked into the Indianapolis Colts, but I'm not there just yet.

Vote for the greatest play in NFL history: has picked the 64 best plays ever, and over the next three weeks we are asking fans to cast their votes for the best. Vote now!

Adding Ed Reed and a healthy Brian Cushing is huge for the Texans, but I think the 2013 season opens with the conference being the Broncos' to lose. That team can score 500 points with Wes Welker in the mix.

I believe Dwight Freeney could help that young Detroit D-line. What are your thoughts? Let me know something!
-- Ron Shepherd (@RonnieShepherd2)

Considering his invisible man act in Indy last year, I'm not so sure how much Freeney has left. Then again, the Lions could use a veteran pass rusher after letting Cliff Avril walk.

Speaking of, does it seem odd to anyone else that the Lions turned their back on Avril? They offered him a three-year, $30 million extension last year, which Avril turned down. Then they had him play under a fat $10.6 million franchise tag. Avril eventually signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks, telling Around The League last month that the Lions never made him an offer in free agency.

It's not like Avril had an awful season in 2012. What are we missing?

And now a break in action. Here's comedian Louie Anderson diving into a pool. Or passing out into a pool. Unclear.

"Family Feud" host Power Rankings (modern era):

5) Richard Karn
4) Louie Anderson
3) Steve Harvey
2) John O'Hurley
1) Ray Combs

Back to football ...

Who is worth more in fantasy, Percy Harvin or Randall Cobb?
-- Anthony Palacio (@McSteamy707)

Good question. I'm going with Cobb only because I feel he's more dependable at this stage of his career, and the departure of Greg Jennings in Green Bay should only add to his value. Harvin landed in a great spot with the Seattle Seahawks, and the upgrade from Christian Ponder to Russell Wilson means a lot. But Harvin struggles to stay healthy, and he's a bit of loose canon.

Harvin probably will go first in fantasy leagues, but Cobb is the safer bet.

Where do you see Ryan Tannehill ranking this season with the Miami Dolphins? Will he be a top-10 QB? -- Luis Hernandez (@Spacekat69)

The world seems ready to coronate the reloaded Miami Dolphins as an AFC team that matters again, but Tannehill's development hangs over everything.

Proponents of Tannehill's rookie season point at stretches of play that showed a quarterback with ability and instincts. Said proponents can't point to a stat sheet, where his 76.1 passer rating and 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions were just blah. Tannehill had moments when he looked like a long-term answer for the Dolphins, but then again, you could say the same thing about Chad Henne once upon a time.

Free-agent tracker
NFL free agency is under way. Follow all of the latest rumors and signings in our free-agent tracker. More...

Tannehill has far more upside than Henne, but I'd be very surprised if he sniffed the top 10 in this golden age of QBs. While we're here, my top 10 quarterbacks entering 2013:

1) Aaron Rodgers
2) Peyton Manning
3) Tom Brady
4) Drew Brees
5) Matt Ryan
6) Eli Manning
7) Joe Flacco
8) Ben Roethlisberger
9) Tony Romo
10) Matthew Stafford

Do you think the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft Geno Smith? -- Youngblood 26 (@DariustumblinTu)

I wouldn't be shocked. Shad Khan aggressively is trying to re-brand this meandering franchise, but that's hard to do when Blaine Gabbert is reminding everyone of the sad, not-too-distant past. Drafting Smith would be a bold move from a team that's trying to put itself back on the map.

What makes Adrian Peterson so good? -- Erik Charles (@Sports5212)

He reads Around The League and follows Dan Hanzus on Twitter. Also, he's physically gifted in a God-like sense.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.