Are the Atlanta Falcons bound for the playoffs?

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Dec 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) carries the ball against Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98) during the second half against the at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Despite finishing a poor season with a 6-10 record in 2014, can the Atlanta Falcons earn a playoff berth in 2015?

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According to Conor Orr of, research suggests that at least four new teams have made the playoffs each year since 1990 — the year the NFL changed to a 12-team playoff format.

In the past ten seasons, the average has climbed to five teams.

In 2014, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions all made the playoffs after missing out the season prior.

Orr believes the Falcons could be one of the five teams to make the jump in 2015:

"“What if the Lions take a step back next season and leave a playoff spot out there for the taking? Do the Panthers inspire much confidence at the moment? Are the Vikings ready to make a serious climb in their division? Do we think that the Giants can finally rebound? If the answer to all of these questions is no, than why can’t a team with a phenomenal wide receiver and a great quarterback get back into consideration and finish right behind the Saints in the South? Dan Quinn brings a new flavor to a defense in desperate need of some help and Matt Ryan finally gets his rebound season.”"

Could it happen?

Let’s break it down.

Next: What needs to be done?