Carson Palmer to Oakland Raiders: Does Trade Make Them AFC West Favorites?

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals calls a play at the line of scrimage while playing the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With reports that the Oakland Raiders have traded for Carson Palmer, the question that now needs to be asked is: Is this the best team in the AFC West?

General consensus would be that no the Raiders aren't the best team in the AFC West, but that the San Diego Chargers are still the team to beat. However, I disagree and firmly believe that the addition of Palmer makes Oakland a playoff lock.

For years, Palmer was regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Even though his overall play dropped in 2009 and 2010, the truth is that Palmer is only 31 years old and is still a very capable player.

He comes to a team that has been winning with a less talented quarterback and he is surrounded by weapons. The Raiders' young receivers are finally starting to mature and play up to the level that many expected them to. Palmer will also benefit from a stout defense and a solid offensive line.

We also can't forget about Darren McFadden, who is not only having an MVP-caliber season, but is also making a strong argument as being the best running back in the NFL.

Never before in his career has Palmer had this many playmakers surrounding him. Palmer is a smart quarterback, so there should be no worries about him struggling to learn the playbook in Oakland in such a short period of time.

The Raiders are clearly interested in winning now and Palmer gives them that opportunity. Watch for Oakland to finish with the best record in the AFC West and earn their first trip to the playoffs since 2002.