"Atlanta. Monday night. The day after Christmas," Brees told reporters last week. "That's going to be an important game. When you add on the other stuff, it's all the more meaningful."
That "other stuff" is Brees' pursuit of breaking Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards passing in a season, a figure Brees stands 305 yards shy of heading into a game rich with NFC playoff implications.
The Saints (11-3) can clinch the NFC South and remain in reach of NFC West leader San Francisco for a first-round playoff bye by defeating the Falcons (9-5), who can clinch a return trip to the playoffs by either beating the Saints or Tampa Bay at home in the regular-season finale.
New Orleans has won six consecutive games and nine of the last 11 against the South-rival Falcons, but the teams have played games decided by three points four straight times, with two requiring overtime.
On Nov. 13, Brees threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-23 overtime victory at Atlanta. Breaking Marino's record appears inevitable, but Brees declined an interview with CBS' Marino this week.
"I've tried to numb my senses [to the record] and focus on us winning football games, executing the offense, being prepared," Brees said. "The rest will take care of itself."
It did last week, when Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-20 rout of Minnesota.
Now he returns to the comforts of the Superdome, where the Saints are 6-0 and on the cusp of greater glory.