"Ya can't win, Rock! This guy will kill you to death inside of three rounds!"

"No, he ain't just another fighter! This guy is a wrecking machine! And he's hungry!"

"They was good fighters, but they wasn't killers like this guy. He'll knock you to tomorrow, Rock!"

That's been the narrative coming from the national Legits™ and semi-legits all week leading up to the Main Event. Dallas and Atlanta was just a couple of palookas. Jobbers. Tomato cans. The football equivalent of Boxcar Ira. In between, the Saints stole a controversial split decision from San Francisco and ESPN's Outside the Lines is currently investigating whether they might have had a judge in their pocket. (John Barr is pretty sure they did.) But shit's about to get real now, and by the time it's over, the has-been ex-champ is gonna be lucky if he doesn't end up laying right beside Mickey Goldmill.

And you better believe they can't fucking wait. They're practically giddy with anticipation.

They thought San Francisco was gonna do the honors, but the Saints "got lucky" with considerable help from some "home cookin'" and escaped. And after they milked all the righteous tough-guy indignation they could out of it, and finally got tired of bitching about what a travesty of justice it was that San Francisco got jobbed, the mantra quickly shifted to "Yeah, but… Seattle! Carolina! Also, Seattle! Or perhaps Carolina!"

The Atlanta game got about as much attention as it deserved, the amount of attention most Thursday Night Football™ games tend to get. Which is to say, not much. It was met with widespread yawns, even among us Saints fans, and that was probably the proper reaction. Three wins in twelve days is actually quite the accomplishment, one that's been largely ignored nationally, but whatever.

Aside from that, there really wasn't a whole lot to talk about there. Another Saints/Falcons game, another Saints win. Rinse and repeat.

See you next September, chumps. Sorry about vandalizing your stadium… again. (Where y'at, Remi?!?) Actually, nah, not sorry. At all. Hell, I'm just glad it wasn't a load-bearing goalpost. Might have brought down that burlap sack roof. Hey, maybe you can get Ray Lewis to chip in on the repairs. Oh, and way to slide, #Marty. Nice 2 for 24, #Rodney. Hell of an aggressive call to kick there, Coach. You guys are the best, please don't ever change. Now go the fuck home.

Anyway, the Falcons hadn't even finished tucking their tails and sad-walking their way back to the locker room when Rich Eisen and crew got back on message. "Yeah, but Seattle! Saints can't keep ducking them anymore. And don't forget about Carolina! Saints can't keep ducking them for much longer either. So who's it gonna be? Who's gonna put the Saints in their place? Maybe both, but I'll go with Seattle, just because they've got the first shot at it. Also BEAST MODE! Remember that one time three years ago…?"

And that's been the mantra ever since. It's just a matter of time. If it ain't Seattle, it'll be Carolina. But it's almost certainly gonna be Seattle. Because 12TH MAN! THEY DON'T LOSE AT HOME! EVER! 10-1! BEAST MODE! THE BLACK FRAN TARKENTON! THE SHERMANATOR! And on and on like that.

Oh, and are you aware of the fact that the Saints are a whole different team on the road? And this game happens to be at that place where "The Twelves" are so busy being THE LOUDEST CROWD ON EARTH that most of them are completely oblivious to the fact that their $12 large beer is exactly the same as the $6 small beer? (And they don't even give a shit, because they've got more important things to worry about, like doing their part to secure that elusive Three-Pete™. Or something. TWELFF MAN, BITCHES!)

This should come as no surprise, of course. It's about this time every year (2012 notwithstanding, when it started in March and lasted all year) when the rest of the country gets sick and damn tired of giving lip service to the Saints and start wishing they (and we) would just go away already. And the national Legits are all too happy to pander to that popular sentiment.

If it isn't one thing, it's another. If it isn't an obscure stat like "heading into the playoffs riding a 3-game losing streak" (so much for fuckin' rust) it's a Great White Hope like Kurt Warner or Brett Favre(!!!) or Peyton Manning. When there's no obvious hero to latch onto, as was the case heading into the 2011 playoffs, the focus turns to classless unsportsmanlike stat-hounding or some other such nonsense. Or that the Saints simply can't win on the road in cold weather. Ever.

It's always something, and anything will do.

This year, it's all about the Mighty Seahawks and their Twelves. And if that fails, they've got a backup in Charlotte. If Clubber doesn't get the job done, then Drago will. And they'll both get a rematch if all else fails. Hell, before it's all over, Carolina might even get three shots at it. The only thing we're absolutely sure of is that sooner or later, one way or the other, somebody is gonna knock the Saints out. They just have to. Right, Prisco?

Which is precisely why the Saints are gonna beat Seattle Monday night. And then turn right around and kick the shit out of Carolina six days later.

Because that's what the Saints do. They fuck shit up.

It's what they've been doing for the better part of a decade now. Crashing the party. Debunking the prevailing wisdom. Shutting people up. That kind of thing. Over and over again.

And that's been especially true so far in this, the year of Sean Payton's Revenge Tour, where settling scores and slaying dragons have been the order of the day. Winning in Soldier Field. Beating San Francisco. Sweeping Atlanta (though that's really more like swatting a mosquito) and sending them home until next fall. Squashing the notion that this team's best days are well behind them. And as always, just generally sticking it to jerks.

Analyze all the stats you want. Break down the matchups. Watch the YouTube highlight clips gamefilm. None of it makes a damn bit of difference, because it's pretty much a dead heat. (Not that you'd know that by listening to the national Legits. But fuck them.) It's not that these two teams are identical, far from it. But there's just not much to be gleaned from the Tale of the Tape, it's just too close overall. A pick-'em if there ever was one.

I feel like we here at moosedenied have been talking about "intangibles" a lot this season, especially lately, and I'm not proud of it. For the most part, I usually agree that it's pretty lame to lean on stuff like that. I'm sure we all agree that it's annoying as hell when a player pulls the disrespeck™ card, and I'm thankful that our Saints typically refrain from indulging in that kind of thing publicly. But at the same time, regardless of the extent to which we care to acknowledge it, there's little doubt that for players and coaches, it is a very real thing. And we've seen it manifest itself on the field often enough to know that it can be a legitimate factor in games. Maybe not always to a game-changing degree, but it's still in fact a thing.

That's particularly true for the Saints. We've seen it over and over again. The Bat Games. The beatdowns of Dallas. The ongoing biannual ownage of Atlanta. We've seen more than enough over the last eight years to know that this team is at its best when there's that little something extra. When the stakes are at their highest. When their backs are against the wall. When they're pissed off for some reason or other. When they've got something to prove. When they've got a score to settle. When they've got that boner going into the game.

Several of those things will be in play Monday night. It's not about revenge for a game three years ago. Hell, there's only a handful of guys left on either of these rosters who even participated in that game. If anything, it's about avenging that loss to the Jets last month. November… it's Important™. And they dropped one that they shouldn't have, now they have to make up for it. It's not about 2010, it's about now.

And of course it's about all the standard stuff that goes without saying… a tenth win, playoff positioning, all that stuff. But it's about more than that.

It's about pissing off the Legits (especially Prisco) and making them cry. Yet again.

It's about the continuing quest to stick it to Roger.

It's about finally getting that "on the road in cold weather" monkey off their backs. In the biggest way possible. Something this particular 2013 Saints team is far more equipped to actually accomplish than any other Saints team of the Sean Payton era.

It's about knocking that media-bestowed crown off Pete Carroll's head and the ever-present smirk off his smug face.

It's about ruining the narrative. Fucking up the script.

And in an otherwise pick-'em type of game, Seattle can have their Twelves. Me? I'll take the one thing that can and will trump all that.

Eye of the Tiger.

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