The Oakland Raiders' playoff shot

Carson Palmer hasn't played this season and has a balky elbow. Why are the lines moving? AP Photo/Ben Margot

The Oakland Raiders' trade for Carson Palmer has been the biggest NFL story of the season (we knew about Peyton Manning before Week 1). It's more than just the trade for a big-name quarterback, it's the realization that long-time league laughingstock Oakland is now a playoff contender making a big in-season move that you would only expect from a playoff contender. So can the Raiders really honor Al Davis' memory with an AFC West title? The odds are pretty good, but Palmer's not necessarily the reason why.

The first question is whether Palmer is an upgrade on Kyle Boller. On the face of it, it's hard to imagine how he's not. In Boller's last season with at least 10 passes, 2009, he finished 42nd out of 46 qualifying quarterbacks in Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) ratings. The real question is whether he's an upgrade on Jason Campbell. The answer: Not as much as you might think. Palmer hasn't been the same quarterback since the elbow injury that cost him much of 2008.