Cha-ching, bitches! Are you smelling that Greatness? Oh, you better believe #wegotthis. WE WANT GREEN BAY! *clap clap clapclapclap*

I can't decide whether it seems like a hell of a lot longer than two months ago when the Saints were sitting at 5-3, had dropped two of their last three, had just shit the bed against a winless Rams team, and were staring down the barrel of what was supposed to be the teeth of the schedule with games against Tampa, Atlanta, the Giants and Detroit over the next five weeks, or whether it seems like yesterday.

Is it just me, or did that 5-3 start kind of lull you to sleep? Oh don't get me wrong, it's not like I haven't been paying attention. But it still feels like the transformation from middling 5-3 playoff hopeful to 11-3 juggernaut kinda snuck up on me. It's like I woke up Monday morning and "all of a sudden" the Saints are tied for the second best record in the whole damn league, have a very good chance to equal 2009's 13-3 record, are setting franchise and league records by the handful on a weekly basis, and looking an awful lot like they might very well be the single strongest team in the NFL heading into January. It's weird, I've been watching the whole thing play out, yet it still feels like I never saw it coming.

I could be a douche about it and blame the national media for being so busy crowning Green Bay, anointing Aaron Rodgers, genuflecting before the altar of Tebow and other such nonsense to give the Saints their so-called due. But that would be stupid. It's 2011, the internet exists and for the time being anyway remains somewhat useful. I don't need the national media's take on the situation, and I damn sure don't give a shit about whether or not they're giving the Saints whatever my arbitrary definition of the "proper" "RESPECK!" might be on any given day. So it's not that. And if it were, it would be my own fault for giving a shit about such silliness.

As ashamed as I am to admit it, I think I might have unintentionally allowed myself to fall victim to the Saints' success. See, it's all so routine these days. 10 wins? Check. 11 wins? Yep. Playoffs? Of course. Drew Brees throws for 412 yards, 5 touchdowns and the Saints win by 3 scores? Just another day at the office. I'm not proud of it, but I think I slipped into a little bit of a "Wake me up for the NFC Championship Game" kind of attitude.

And it's a shame, because then you wake up one morning and realize "Oh shit, this has gone just a little bit beyond routine, hasn't it? 'Suddenly' the 2011 Saints offense could very well end up the most prolific offense in NFL history. 'Suddenly' Drew Brees is about to post the single most prolific passing season in NFL history. 'Suddenly' Jimmy Graham is about to post the single most prolific receiving season by a tight end in NFL history. (I need to stop before Billy Ocean makes his long-awaited Tuneski debut.) Shit, where have I been??? I really need to be savoring all this a lot more than I have been."

So I'm making an early New Year's resolution. It's time to wake up and quit taking all this for granted. Just in the nick of time too, because shit's about to get real fun.

I'm also resolving to quit reflexively comparing everything to 2009, whether I want to or not. I think that's part of the problem too. It's not fair, because 2009 was magic. Oh, they were a damn strong football team too, don't get me wrong. And they earned everything they got that season. But those 39 takeaways were magic. Brett Favre's and Peyton Manning's brainfarts falling into the hands of Tracy Porter was magic. The ball bouncing the Saints' way all damn year was magic. And magic gives you that… well, magical feeling.

This? This ain't magic. This is just the Saints doing what they do.

Nothing ever compares to The First Time. And it's not fair to subconsciously hold it against this particular team that it hasn't felt "magical" like it did in 2009. That's just because there isn't anything magical about it. If anything, it should be a credit to this particular team that the ball hasn't been bouncing their way all year like it was in 2009. To the contrary, this year's team has been getting inexplicably boned a handful of times pretty much every single week. Just like old times, eh?

And yet, here we are anyway.

This isn't a "Team of Destiny" or anything like that. It's just the strongest damn team in the league.

Which is why I don't give much of a shit about the #2 seed anymore. Sure, it'd be nice. I'm all for anything that makes the path to the Ultimate Prize even a tiny bit easier, let alone significantly easier. All I'm saying is that I'm not sure it really matters at this point. Bye or no bye, two games or three. Hell, should the Saints fail to secure the 2 seed and the bye, well, all that means is one extra Saints game. And that's one hell of a silver lining. High five!

(Yeah, confidence is running pretty high right about now.)

Nor do I really give a shit about a rematch with Green Bay anymore. Now that they're no longer "invincible" any extra juice that would have come with strutting into Lambeau in January and crushing their souls is out the window. So screw them.

Meantime, while I'm pretty sure I've got another 1000 or so words in me, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to go ahead and half-ass it this week. Real Life and the General-Purpose Non-Denominational Federal Winter Holiday just won't stop intervening. You know how it is.

So I'll just have to leave it at this: Bring 'em on. Doesn't matter who, doesn't matter where. #wegotthis

There's just something different about this team as compared to October. Radically different. Call it "peaking" or call it "gelling" or call it Drew Brees: Mindfreak taking this team on his back (yet again) or whatever you wanna call it. It might not be "magical." Hell, it might not even feel all that special right about now. But it'll be feeling pretty special soon enough. Wait for it, wait for it. Meantime, it sure does smell an awful lot like cloves Greatness. For now anyway, that'll just have to do.

Here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Kwaazy Kwanzaa, Tip-Tip Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. We'll see you on the flip side.

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