Don't try to tell the Buffalo Bills that they belong to an inferior conference.
The popular theory that NFC teams are bigger, stronger and more talented than those in the AFC doesn't fly in their dressing room.
"I think it's a stupid assessment," wide receiver Andre Reed said with disgust Wednesday.
"I don't think it matters what conference you play in," fullback Jamie Mueller said. "Any team can beat any team."
With an 11-2 record, the Bills feel pretty good about themselves. And they aren't about to genuflect to any opponent, including one from the "mighty" NFC.
The last time the subject came up was two weeks ago, before the Bills faced the Philadelphia Eagles. They responded with a 30-23 victory, which, counting their 45-14 humiliation of the Phoenix Cardinals, made them 2-0 against NFC competition.
Now, the issue is being raised in advance of Saturday's game against the New York Giants.
Let the record show that no one is trembling at One Bills Drive.
"If the NFC wants to think they're tougher, then let them," offensive guard John Davis said. "I know we have a good football team and I feel we can
play with the NFC squads."
"When I came in the league four years ago, that's the first thing I heard: 'You were drafted by an AFC team, and they're not that tough,' " defensive end Leon Seals recalled. "But we'll take it to anybody -- NFC or AFC. For anybody to feel inferior because they're going to play an NFC team, they don't belong in this league."
"It's still a game played by individuals, and the individual talent on each team in the league is top-notch," said offensive tackle Will Wolford. "New England's had a tough year, but even they shouldn't feel inferior to the NFC. I don't feel inferior to anyone."
The basis for the argument that the NFC is a cut above is the six consecutive Super Bowls won by its representatives. Fresh in everyone's memory is the San Francisco 49ers 55-10 romp over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.
This year, the NFC holds a 23-17 edge in interconference games.
However, in regular-season games since 1984 (after the Los Angeles Raiders gave the AFC its last Super Bowl triumph), the AFC leads 173-172, with one tie.
"People try and hit us with the stigma that the NFC is more physical," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "They may have different schemes that they run, but I don't think that's true.
"NFC teams kind of take the AFC lightly. They think that the AFC is a league of a bunch of pushovers, that we avoid contact. And we try to go out and prove them wrong."
As far as Smith is concerned, the Bills can strike a huge blow for the AFC Saturday.
"I think anytime we go against an NFC team, we have to go out and prove ourselves," he said.
Of course, the biggest blow of all would have to be struck on Jan. 27, during Super Bowl XXV at Tampa, Fla.
"I don't think that the AFC, in the past three years, has really shown a strong performance in the Super Bowl," Smith said. "So I think that it's going to take a balanced AFC team to represent the conference. Hopefully, it will be us."
"We'll never stop hearing that the NFC is better until we just go in and dominate like the NFC has been dominating as far as winning Super Bowls," linebacker Cornelius Bennett said.
But first things first.
"If anything, playing a team like the Giants should pump everyone up," Seals said. "Everybody wants to say the NFC is the best, but here's a chance to play a top NFC team and go out and make things happen.
"And if we do, maybe then we'll start getting the kind of respect around the league that we always wanted."