Rapid Reaction: Saints 35, Falcons 27

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

NEW ORLEANS -- Ladies and gentlemen, the NFC South race is over.

Let’s go ahead and crown the New Orleans Saints division champions. Yeah, I know we’re only seven games into this thing. But it’s over.

The Saints played their first division game of the season Monday night. They won it and, therefore, they’re going to win the NFC South for the first time since 2006.

Barring some sort of major injuries or problems, the Saints already have put enough distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC South. The Falcons played them pretty darn hard, but New Orleans survived it.

That makes the Saints 7-0 and the Falcons 4-3. Look at both of their remaining schedules and you’ll see why I’m saying the race is over. Atlanta needed this game to have any chance of catching the Saints. Now, the Falcons are going to have to scramble just to get a wild-card berth.

The Saints will be playing for much more than an NFC South crown the rest of the way. They’re going to finish with double-digit wins (they only need one more win for that if you give them victories for their two games with Tampa Bay). The only real questions are if they can clinch the home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and maybe even if they’ll go undefeated.

I’m heading downstairs for post-game interviews. I’ll be back with more in a bit.