GLENDALE, Ariz. - It didn't take long for someone to guarantee victory in Super Bowl XLII. Even before he left New York last weekend, Giants WR Plaxico Burress predicted flatly that the Giants would win by a score of 23-17.
Burress didn't back off of his prediction Tuesday. In fact, teammate Michael Strahan and Giants coach Tom Coughlin threw their support behind Burress, the latter saying he liked the way Burress thinks.
But if Burress' intention was to get the Patriots worked up and focused on something other than the work that lies ahead for them this week, he failed to meet his objective.
Like the veterans they are, the Patriots spoke about the receiver's prediction like a group of players who know that pregame commentary doesn't mean anything once you strap the pads on.
"Anything that people say leading up to the game, before the game or on the field, won't matter when we get between those lines," Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. "If you don't execute, you're in trouble."
"I always feel like talk is cheap," Pats DL Richard Seymour said. "Someone can get out here and talk about it all day, but come Sunday, the team that plays best is going to be champions.
"You can talk all you want about winning this game, but you have to execute and get it done when it's time to get it done. Talk is cheap. You need to put some actions behind it."
NUMBERS GAME: Scott Pioli, the Patriots' vice president for player personnel, has some advice for football executives young and old: Don't get caught up in the numbers.
"I'm talking about height, weight and speed, the test numbers," he said. "I've made mistakes getting caught up in the numbers."
Pioli didn't go into detail about his mistakes, but he did go into detail about several successes, saying QB Tom Brady and LB Tedy Bruschi show how numbers can fool you into making a mistake on a player.
"Tom Brady took some heat recently when they showed a video of his running a 40-yard dash," Pioli said. "But Tommy's speed and running ability have nothing to do with his pocket presence.
"Here is a guy who has vision, who has feel, who has sense. With Tedy Bruschi, his instincts are incredible. They're rare. So he plays a lot faster than what his numbers on paper suggest."
LET IT GROW: It seems a little ironic that Patriots G Logan Mankins makes his living playing half his games in a stadium named after a company that makes shaving products. After all, Mankins hasn't shaved since training camp.
His red beard, just a light stubble when his picture was taken for the team's media guide, now covers his throat entirely and reaches to the top of his chest. And it's all because the Patriots have yet to lose a game.
"We haven't lost, so I haven't shaved," said Mankins, who doesn't plan to keep the beard much longer. Even if the Patriots win Sunday's Super Bowl XLII matchup with the Giants, Mankins said he'll probably shave off his beard "the next morning."
PATS BITS: The meeting between the Patriots and Giants is their third of the season. The teams also met in the preseason and during the regular season. Both games were won by the Patriots. ... Asked what his favorite band was Tuesday, Brady said U2. ... WR Wes Welker probably had the quote of the day. When asked what the difference was between New England and Miami he said, "Weather, women and wins."