Monday night's National Football Conference South showdown is also a battle of conference contenders when the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) face the New Orleans Saints (11-3) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Falcons have yet to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs, but can clinch one with a win or tie. Atlanta can also clinch a wild-card spot with losses by the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Cowboys, or with losses by Arizona, Chicago, and the New York Giants.

The Saints are looking to finish a game ahead of the San Francisco 49ers to gain the coveted No. 2 spot. Led by Drew Brees' excellent season, the Saints are riding a six-game winning streak and have the top-rated offense in the NFL.

Brees has been particularly strong in recent weeks. He has thrown for over 300 yards in his last five games, and hasn't thrown an interception since Nov. 6.

Meanwhile, the Falcons are looking sharp, as well, having won four of their last five games. Atlanta dismantled the Jaguars on Dec. 15, and have been getting big numbers from Roddy White. The star wide receiver has catches for more than 100 yards in three of his last five games, with 38 receptions during that span.

Michael Turner is having a Pro Bowl-worthy season, as well. The veteran running back has already rushed for 1,129 yards. Turner has now rushed for over 1,000 yards in three of the last four seasons.

Head coach Mike Smith might look to give Turner more carries, as he may be due for a breakout game. Turner hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game since Nov. 20. The Saints are ranked 13th in rush defense.

While the Falcons will be facing a high-powered offense, Atlanta's defense has stepped up in recent weeks. The Falcons have held their opponents to under 18 points in four of the last five games.

The Saints' defense is ranked 28th against the pass, but are coming off a game against the Minnesota Vikings where they held the offense to just 102 passing yards.

We're peaking at the right time, said Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma. I'm talking about jelling as far as a team -- offense, defense, special teams.

The last time the two clubs played, the Saints edged the Falcons, 26-23, in overtime, on Nov. 13.

LINE: The Saints are favored by 7 points.

OVER/UNDER: 53 points

PREDICTION: This will be another tight game. The Falcons may have already sealed a playoff spot by the start of the game, but they still want to win, and will go to the air instead of surprising the Saints with a rushing attack. Expect quarterback Matt Ryan to target White and underused Harry Douglas. Brees will have another big game, but he should be more effective in the second half, as the Falcons' defense begins to fatigue. Lance Moore might receive more passes, as the Falcons will likely play tight on Marques Colston.

PREDICTED SCORE: Saints over Falcons, 31-28.