Most dangerous 2008 non-playoff teams for 2009

The 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders and Bengals could prove to be formidable teams this coming season. (Associated Press)

The 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders and Bengals could prove to be formidable teams this coming season. (Associated Press)

We all know that anything can happen in the NFL, and last season, the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons were among the league’s surprise teams. With that in mind, here are the most dangerous 2008 non-playoff teams that will make noise in 2009, and some might even find their way into the postseason:

  • Cincinnati Bengals — WR Chad Ochocinco has something to prove, and so does his QB, Carson Palmer. There are a lot of whispers about the six-year veteran regaining his Pro Bowl form. On defense, Mike Zimmer has added some nice pieces in preparation for his second year as coordinator. And it goes without saying that coach Marvin Lewis’ job is on the line. His contract runs through 2010. That is something the frugal Bengals organization can swallow if things don’t go well this season.
  • Oakland Raiders –- They have a great chance to make some waves this season. However, much of that potential isn’t due to Oakland’s efforts but rather the implosion of the AFC West rival Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Although the San Diego Chargers remain the class of the division, the Raiders should be able to sweep the Chiefs and Broncos. Everyone is under the illusion that the ball will be in the court of QB JaMarcus Russell, but nothing could be further from the truth. Oakland will run the football and play good defense. The Raiders will allow Russell to continue developing at a gingerly pace.
  • San Francisco 49ers -– Quarterback remains the biggest weakness for this team. Shaun Hill is a good custodian of the offense, but the 49ers need a real playmaker at the position to help take some of the pressure off RB Frank Gore. Too bad Eddie DeBartolo isn’t still with the organization because he would have the guts to sign Michael Vick once he is reinstated. The defense will be good, and while the offense will not be spectacular, it should be consistent.
  • Seattle Seahawks -– QB Matt Hasselbeck will have a monster season, Jim Mora has taken the helm and the defense should be improved. DE Patrick Kerney is at a pivotal point in his career and needs to step up and produce. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a great addition, and I have the sneaking suspicion that WR Deion Branch finally will have the season that Seahawks fans have wanted. He can’t get hurt again, though.

What say you?

Catch me on Twitter @jamiedukes

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