"All the parts of the can that were kicked out to March haven't been resolved yet," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "The potential for at least as big a dispute if not greater happens again.
"As we approach that deadline we definitely could see some increase in volatility. These guys in Washington don't like each other, we know that. Most of them are digging their heels in already."
The stock market, then, could find the optimism following a temporary break in the debt battle to be ill-founded.
History suggests that huge drops in the VIX are followed by weak market performance.
In nine previous periods where the index has dropped more than 30 percent in five days, the average market return has been minus-1.51 percent, according to Bespoke Investment Group
Over the following month, the S&P 500 loses 0.27 percent and is flat on average over the next three months but with a median loss of 2 percent.
"Based on these prior periods, when option traders perceive there to be less risk in the market and let down their guard, investors should raise theirs," Bespoke CEO Paul Hickey said.
Art Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS, pointed out in a note that such dramatic VIX drops happen so rarely that "seeing it as a pattern holds some risk."
However, with the S&P 500 "clearly overbought...attention must be paid," he said.
The move occurs as Wall Street strategists are fiercely bullish for 2013, with many picking the market to reach new highs. (Read More: After the 'Apocalypse': What Investors Can Do Now)
While the overheated VIX selling of last week is causing some anticipation of a near-term stock market pullback, it is not affecting annual forecasts.
A market drop "would present another entry point, and we would see pullbacks from the current levels as opportunities to add positions at attractive prices," Stoltzfus said. "We don't think it's going to be a major pullback here, but the market has had a good run."
Stoltzfus advocates sector plays in consumer discretionary, materials, financials and information technology, while he sees stock-picking opportunities in energy and industrials.
"The market has been in a rally from June 1 (2012). There were also declines that occurred after that rally, but you had a low that was put in in mid-November," he said. "Testing is a process of a recovering market, and we think that we are in a major economic recovery process that reflects in the market and, net-net, offers opportunity for investors."