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If the Falcons return to the playoffs in 2017, it’ll be a rare feat

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The Falcons have a great shot, thankfully.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

This won’t surprise you, given that the Falcons didn’t have consecutive winning seasons until Mike Smith’s tenure with the team, but Atlanta has not had a habit of returning to the playoffs all that often. In fact, it has only happened twice in team history, when the Falcons made the playoffs in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

It never happened before that—the Falcons made it, infuriatingly, in 1978, 1980, and 1982, and flamed out a bunch of times after successful seasons otherwise—and the team has only recently found sustained success. The last time they made the Super Bowl, Jamal Anderson got hurt and the team struggled mightily in 1999, so we are talking about a very rare feat here.

Fortunately, the Falcons have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and would figure to be a strong pick for a return to the postseason. Now we’ll see if they can get back to the Super Bowl for the first time ever.