Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 3/1/12

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals calls a play during the game against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on January 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The last time the Raiders finished a season with a record above .500, Rich Gannon was under center. That was 10 years ago, when the 11-5 Raiders were destroyed by the Bucs in the Super Bowl. Since then, life in Oakland has not been easy. The Raiders have improved a bit recently — with 8-8 finishes the past two seasons — but they have work to do before becoming a playoff contender. Carson Palmer is confident in the current squad, however. In fact, he believes Oakland is close to being a Super Bowl contender.

“As far as being close to a playoff team, it’s more than that,” Palmer said Wednesday in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, according to the Contra Costa Times. “We’re close to a championship team. There’s a lot of work that needs to be put in and a lot of hurdles that we need to get over, but we need to be heading into this season thinking more than just playoffs.”

With Hue Jackson having been fired and Palmer still learning the offense, many believe 2012 will be a rebuilding year for the Raiders. Offensively, a lot will hinge on the health of Darren McFadden and the ability of Palmer to get on the same page with the receiving corps. Defensively, Oakland ranked 29th in total team defense last season and gave up a whopping 27 points per game. I doubt that is an overnight fix.

As the team’s quarterback, Palmer’s job is to try to build confidence. That being said, the Raiders haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. Reaching the postseason needs to be the goal before Oakland even thinks about getting to the Super Bowl.

H/T Pro Football Talk

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