Eli Manning is an elite quarterback

The New York Giants came up just short against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10. Kyle Terada/US Presswire

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag twice a week. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: Eli Manning has silenced his critics this postseason. Is there any doubt that he is now an elite quarterback?

-- Harriet (N.Y.)

A: Not to me, Harriet. He has played at an elite level this season. How could anyone argue any differently? He has changed the New York Giants from a power running team into a dangerous passing team. His numbers match up to almost anyone's. And he already has won a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP award, in addition to beating the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers in the postseason this year to get to Sunday's NFC Championship Game in San Francisco. Eli was the first to bring attention to it, but he was right. Can't spell elite without Eli.

Q: Do you think the San Francisco 49ers can slow down Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and the Giants' passing attack on Sunday? I believe they can stop New York's rushing attack.

-- Drederick (Calif.)

A: Many teams can stop the Giants' rushing attack, Drederick; that's not the tough part here. The tough part is slowing down Cruz, Nicks and Mario Manningham, who have become as formidable as any wide receiving trio in the game today. As mentioned above, the Giants don't run to victory anymore. They throw to it. San Francisco was able to get interceptions against Drew Brees on Saturday, and it will have to find a way to get a few more against Manning to win Sunday night. It should be a great matchup, a throwback championship game to the many great games these two franchises have played.

Q: Alex Smith played fabulously on Saturday and has been able to avoid turnovers all season. If he does this, do you think the 49ers will win?

-- Jared (N.J.)

A: I can't say enough about how impressive Smith was Saturday, Jared. Those were some perfectly placed passes, immaculate throws. If he plays like that again, the Niners will be a tough out, of course. But here's the amazing part to me: Who would have thought that Smith would lead his team further in the playoffs this season than Aaron Rodgers? No one saw that coming.

Q: One thing the Giants didn't have to worry about against the Green Bay Packers was a strong pass rush. With Justin Smith and Aldon Smith playing so well, will the Giants' O-line hold up?

-- Kevin (Va.)

A: It's a totally different matchup this week for both teams, Kevin. You're right that the Giants will see a tougher pass rush. But so will the 49ers. Each team rushes the passer better than the Packers and New Orleans Saints. And that's one of the main reasons the Packers and Saints are done and the Giants and 49ers are not. Whichever team generates more pressure Sunday will have a big advantage in getting to Indianapolis and the Super Bowl. It should be a great game.