Are the Atlanta Falcons bound for the playoffs?

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Dec 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Who could drop out of playoffs?

Out of the six teams that made the playoffs from the NFC in 2014, which team is most likely to drop out?

The teams that qualified in order of seeding: Seattle Seahawks; Green Bay Packers; Dallas Cowboys; Carolina Panthers; Arizona Cardinals; Detroit Lions.

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Three of those spots are reserved for the winners of the NFC North, NFC West and NFC East. Right now it’s safe to assume the Seahawks and Packers will win their respective divisions.

The most obvious route into the playoffs for the Falcons is to win the NFC South. Despite needing to fix a lot of holes on the roster, they still have an opportunity to win the division crown.

Carolina are the team to beat, but they are far from the finished product. The Falcons have the offense to take on the Panthers’ strong defense, and with a stronger run game they will be able to beat them in a number of ways.

Defensively they will need to find a way of slowing down Cam Newton. If they can’t improve on this side of the football, the Falcons can all but forget about winning the division.

Would they have a shot at a wild-card berth?

The fifth seed in 2014 was the Cardinals; the sixth was the Lions. The Cardinals will be strong once again if Carson Palmer can stay healthy, but the Lions are the team to watch.

Nov 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) and cornerback Josh Wilson (26) tackle Arizona Cardinals running back Marion Grice (23) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Cardinals 29-18. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With the loss of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, can the Lions maintain the dominant defense that helped them win 11 games last year?

Of the teams who missed out last year, the Philadelphia Eagles are the most intriguing. After so many changes this offseason, the Eagles are a team who could win their division outright, or bust and miss out altogether.

Can the 49ers or Giants bounce back?

Do the Saints have a chance?

It’s way too early to know how good these teams will be, but the Falcons could be a surprise team to snatch a wild-card berth.

If Dimitroff can help give new head coach Dan Quinn a stronger defense to work with, while also continuing to build on a strong offense, the Falcons will have a chance of punching their ticket to the playoffs.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Starr out to prove himself in 2015