There's a difference between defiant and delusional.
The Giants seem to be straddling that line.
Despite their 0-3 start, despite their troubles running the ball and protecting their quarterback, despite being last in the league in sacks, and despite coming off the worst shellacking the franchise has taken in more than a decade, the Giants were burying the needle on the confidence meter Wednesday.
They were talking as if they are the team with three wins, not their upcoming opponents, the Chiefs. Chirping as if they are championship contenders, all evidence to the contrary.
"I was always taught to rejoice at a time like this," Hakeem Nicks said of the antipodean disconnect between the team's record and its mind-set. "Because a blessing is coming."
There was even the whiff of a guarantee that the Giants will emerge from Sunday's game with a much-needed victory.
"So far we haven't been doing it, but I'm pretty sure we'll come out with a win this week," Jason Pierre-Paul said. "I feel like our team is going to come together and play in harmony. We haven't been playing with chemistry or harmony. I'm pretty sure we're going to do that this week."
Pierre-Paul wasn't the only one feeling that way. Or at least forcing himself to feel that way.
"I think this is where we turn the page and kind of make a good run and get a couple of wins under our belt," Victor Cruz said. "It's a completely different attitude in here and I think it's going to prove us well."
Nicks and Cruz went so far as to declare the Giants' offense as one of the top units in the league. Nicks made that claim in the preseason.
"I stand by that," he said.
Even after the Giants were shut out by the Panthers?
"I'm going to still say that," he said, "and I believe we're going to prove it, too."
At least Cruz put a caveat in front of his pomposity.
"I think as long as myself and Hakeem and our entire offense is on the same page and we're moving and Eli [Manning] is giving us the ball and we're running the ball well, I think we're absolutely the best offense in football," Cruz said. "We have yet to show that on the field, but I think now is the time when we put everything together and get things going in the right direction."
Wednesday's practice seemed to have the same kind of fire and energy as the quotes that came from the locker room. Several players made mention of dust-ups and physicality manifesting itself during the workout. They saw that as a good sign.
"We're football players, so increasing the intensity is only going to help us," Antrel Rolle said. "Within the battlefield you're going to have scuffles, you're going to have fights. You're going to fight one play and love each other the next play. That's a football player. That's what we are."
It's been hard to tell exactly what the Giants are for some time. Part of the problem in their recent history has been an uncertainty over which team will show up to games: the one that beat the Packers and Saints and 49ers handily last year, or the one that has lost five of its last six and been outscored by more points than any other team in the league this season.
Cruz gave his answer.
"I think the better Giants team is going to show up this week," he said.
The better talking team certainly showed up on Wednesday.