Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag twice a week. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.
Q: I know I'm getting ahead of myself, Adam, but if Eli Manning wins would you consider him a Hall of Fame QB?
-- Kermit (Kansas)
A: He's beginning to make his case, Kermit, absolutely. And should Manning come up with another win Sunday, to go to 2-0 in the big game, his case would become even more compelling. In Friday's 10 Spot, I made the argument that Manning is on his way to becoming the best and most productive quarterback ever to play in New York and New Jersey. But he's also creeping closer and closer to Canton with each win he registers now. And one more win Sunday would fortify Manning's case and make it even more likely he would one day be joining his brother, Peyton, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- in what could be the first brother combination to be inducted into the Hall.
Q: The New York Giants' running game has been much better during the playoffs. Do you think they'll make a concerted effort to establish the run or just attack a weak Patriots secondary?
-- Larry (D.C.)
A: In recent years, Larry, the Giants have transformed themselves from more of a running team into more of a passing team. In a passing league, New York clearly has adapted. I think, in a perfect world, the Giants would use the pass Sunday to get up on the Patriots, then use the run to keep Tom Brady off the field and keep the lead on the scoreboard. But the flow of the game will dictate what the Giants wind up doing. They have the capabilities of doing each, passing or running. And, with the way New York has run the ball this postseason, they're in position to be able to do it successfully Sunday against New England.
-- Mike (Oklahoma)
A: Whenever these teams have played in recent times, be it this season or in Super Bowl XLII, the Giants have gotten plenty of pressure on Brady and made him uncomfortable in the pocket. They're going to have to do it again Sunday to win this game. As complex as football can be, it boils down to whether the Giants' first-rate pass rush can pressure Brady. If it can, the Giants' chances of winning this game improve dramatically. But this also is a different Patriots offensive attack from the one the Giants thwarted in the last Super Bowl the two teams played. Back then, New England had more of a vertical passing game. Now, it uses quick strikes, which will make it more difficult for the Giants to get pressure. Brady will be looking to get rid of the ball quickly to neutralize that pass rush, whether or not New England keeps in an extra tight end.
-- Fred (West Virginia)
A: It creates a really interesting situation, Fred. Someone is going to pay Manningham some pretty decent money. Whatever someone pays him will be considerably more than the Giants pay Cruz. And that could create an odd locker room dynamic. Those types of situations happen. But the Giants at some point are going to have to pay Hakeem Nicks and Cruz, and, if they pay Manningham now, it's going to be very difficult to pay all three receivers. Now, maybe Manningham will not generate as much interest on the open market as he hopes, but that's unlikely. Someone will be interested in his services, and someone will be willing to make him a solid offer. And, if that happens, it will make it challenging for the Giants to bring him back to New York. It's just the way the game works. As much as the Giants would rather not lose him, they can't afford to pay everyone.
Q: I feel like the inexperience of the Giants' linebackers has been covered up by New York's dominant pass rush. If they don't get pressure, they're in trouble. For example, who is covering Wes Welker? Or for that matter, Hernandez or Gronkowski?
-- Owen (Washington)
A: Again, Owen, I come back to the quick passes, the short strikes, the condensed passing game Brady has mastered with these tight ends. It is a good way to try to neutralize one of the best pass rushes in football. And people forget that the Giants are missing their best cornerback, Terrell Thomas, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. New York sure could use Thomas on Sunday, even though the Giants' cornerbacks have played well in his absence. And yes, New York has question marks at linebacker. But it hasn't hurt the Giants yet, likely because their pass rush has been so good.