Saints, Falcons play nice -- for now

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
1:57
PM ET
Part of the beauty of the rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints is that, even though the two teams don’t like each other, they generally save their talking for on the field.

Even Atlanta receiver Roddy White, so far, has been quiet as we get ready for Monday night’s NFC South showdown. These aren’t the Jets and Giants, trading verbal barbs long before the game is even played.

In fact, the Saints and Falcons have been doing nothing but complimenting each other.

In a Thursday call with the New Orleans media, Atlanta coach Mike Smith shared some thoughts about Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Smith’s words might cause a minor stir up in Green Bay, but they’re not going to appear on any bulletin boards around the Saints’ facility.

“Drew’s having, in my mind, an MVP season,’’ Smith said.

When asked if Brees has hit his full maturity level, Smith gave even more praise.

“Gosh, I hope he’s at his highest level because, gosh, if he plays any better, I don’t know if there’s any way to stop him," Smith said.

Gosh, even though it seems like every other opponent has been calling the Saints a “dirty’’ defense lately, the Falcons won’t even go near that.

In a conference call with the New Orleans media, Atlanta running back Michael Turner made it sound almost like the Saints’ defenders are his friends.

"Nah, typical football game," Turner said. "There's going to be some physicalness, some pushing, some shoving. It might get a little chippy out there with the rivalry and all the emotions that are going into this ballgame. But you've got to just stay focused and do your job and try to do what's best for your team."

I’m sure things will heat up Monday night when the game starts. But, for the moment, the Saints and Falcons are acting like they’re in the holiday spirit.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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