Oakland Raiders can win the AFC West

Carson Palmer has a lot riding on his shoulders as the new quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag every Monday and Wednesday. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: Do the Oakland Raiders actually have a shot at winning the AFC West this year? The San Diego Chargers are still the class of that division aren't they?

-- Sam (Calif.)

A: The Chargers are the team to beat, Sam, but Oakland is capable of doing it. San Diego has failed to prove over the years it's a tough team, a team that can be counted on in pressure-packed situations. This Raiders team runs the ball very well and does a good job stopping the run. And now that it has Carson Palmer, it has a quarterback it can lean on with Jason Campbell recovering from a broken collarbone. If Palmer is the old Palmer rather than an old Palmer, then it's very feasible to think that the Raiders can unseat the Chargers for the AFC West title. If Palmer is pedestrian, the way he has been in recent seasons, it will be tough to do. It's all riding on him.

Q: Wow, what a deal for the Cincinnati Bengals, trading away Palmer to the Raiders. Did they get the better of that deal? Palmer isn't the quarterback that he used to be. I think that the Raiders gave up way too much to get him.

-- Kim (Mass.)

A: No question the Raiders gave up a lot, more than many people thought they should have, Kim. However, if Palmer is like the quarterback he was when he took Cincinnati to the playoffs, then there's no price that can be paid that's too high for a quarterback. If Palmer is as good as Raiders coach Hue Jackson remembers him being in Cincinnati, then Oakland did well in this deal. But if he isn't, the Raiders set back their franchise for a long time. So there's a question on Oakland's end. But there's no question about this: Cincinnati couldn't be happier with this deal. With Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and potentially two extra first-round picks in the next two years, the Bengals are building a team that can be a contender for a long time.

Q: Adam, do you think the Washington Redskins can win the NFC East with a solid defense, good running game and John Beck at the helm?

-- Tyra (N.Y.)

A: The division is wide open, Tyra. It seems to shift on a week-to-week basis. It would have been a lot easier to feel better about the Redskins' chances if they had taken care of the Eagles once and for all Sunday; that victory kept Philadelphia alive in the division and was a blow to Washington's chances. That being said, the Redskins still are a good, solid football team. But they must get better play out of the quarterback position. If Beck (or Rex Grossman) doesn't turn over the football, then they have a chance to win the division.

Q: What do you think of Leslie Frazier's decision to start Christian Ponder? Is it the right time? What will the Minnesota Vikings do with Donovan McNabb now?

-- Jerry (Tex.)

A: What choice did he have, Jerry? The Vikings are 1-5, going nowhere and looked awful on Sunday night. Might as well turn the page and move on to your future now, which is exactly what the Vikings did. It's the right move at this time. It's frustrating for everyone, the Vikings and McNabb, but Minnesota felt it needed to move on. And now that it has, there are serious questions about McNabb's future. There hasn't been a whole lot of interest in him around the league when he was available. So it's fair to wonder if, short of an injury to Ponder or another quarterback, we'll see him again.

Q: With Devin Hester being the greatest return man of all time, does he deserve to be in the NFL Hall of Fame when his career is over?

-- Skip (Minn.)

A: Before all is said and done, he will get some consideration, Skip. He has to, because he has been that good. But his career is far from over. He turns 29 next month. If he keeps piling on some big touchdown returns, then he is going to make more and more of a compelling argument on his behalf. Right now, it will not be easy. But he certainly has a chance.