Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints Prepare for Monday Night Football Shootout

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IDecember 27, 2010

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 12:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass during the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Louisiana Superdome on December 12, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Rams 31-13.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Never has a defending Super Bowl champion team received less respect than the New Orleans Saints. The Saints haven't had a bad year or a shortage of exciting games, so why are they being forgotten in the national media?

The Saints used their story to gain support last season. New Orleans had gone through a lot since the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, and the Saints brought the ultimate joy to a region battered by hardship.

Without the same story to get behind, the Saints have not been as popular this season, but their play on the field remains Super Bowl-worthy.

After a sluggish start offensively, Drew Brees has led the Saints back to the prolific offense they've been for years, and with the entire offense in good health, the Saints are hitting their stride at the right time.

Tonight's Monday night showdown with the Atlanta Falcons is an exciting one for NFL fans. Both teams have great offenses that score a lot of points and have big-play athletes.

The Falcons are the leaders in the division, and even a loss to the Saints wouldn't derail their hopes of winning the NFC South, but a win would secure the division and home field throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Falcons have shown balance on offense this season, with running back Michael Turner's return to form a big reason why.

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The Falcons should beat the Saints on paper. The Saints defense is not as good as last season, and they have not been forcing the amount of turnovers they did last year.

The Saints must score a lot of points to keep up with the Falcons. The game could easily be a shootout, and whichever defense makes the first big play could win the game.