It may not have been the greatest trade in football history, but Oakland’s acquisition of Carson Palmer should win the Raiders a division.
Oakland looked like the best team in the division before the trade. They are the only AFC West team with wins over quality opponents like the Texans and Jets.
After Thursday night’s too-close yet dominant 24-17 victory over the Chargers, the Raiders still look like the best team.
At some point, people are going to come around to the fact that this isn’t a good Chargers squad. You can’t name a single impressive game they’ve put up all year. They have four close wins against bad teams, and now they’ve lost four straight games to fall to 4-5.
Philip Rivers isn’t right and the defense has been consistently soft. It entered the game 27th in points allowed. It allowed Michael Bush to look like Bo Jackson; Bush racked up 242 yards from scrimmage on Thursday night.
If Darren McFadden was in this game, he might have topped 400 yards.
The Chargers were very lucky to keep this game close in the fourth quarter. They were manhandled on both sides of the line, but penalties and some gutsy second half throws by Rivers kept it interesting.
Palmer out-played Rivers throughout the night. At one point, Palmer was 10-for-12 for 250 yards and two scores. Palmer’s deep ball is back, as evidenced by a couple nasty throws to Denarius Moore. (Moore had 123 yards and two scores after Jacoby Ford left with an ankle injury.)
The Raiders know who they are. The defensive line can outmuscle soft opposition. The running game rolls no matter who has the ball. Palmer’s arm clearly benefited from his time away from football.
Oakland may not be a perfect team, but they are the best this mediocre division has to offer. They should be favored when they host the Chargers in the Black Hole in Week 17.
With Palmer only getting better, the Raiders are the team to beat in the AFC West.