Del Rio downplays Jacksonville homecoming

The Raiders’ head coach has a swagger about him, so surely reporters can do better than ask him about his feelings on returning to Jacksonville for the first time since getting fired in 2011 after nine years coaching the Jaguars.

The Raiders (4-2) have appeared to turn a corner in Del Rio’s second year, similar to the one the Jaguars turned when they went 9-7 in 2004.

Jacksonville made playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007 under Del Rio, getting its first postseason win in eight years by beating Pittsburgh in the 2007 wild-card game.

Being a former NFL linebacker has helped Del Rio deal with players, but his focus is mentioned by his supporters.

Like Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, whom Del Rio once fired in Jacksonville.

Like Linda Del Rio, who has made more than 40 moves in her husband’s 32-year NFL career.

When he was on the Ravens staff that won the Super Bowl, he was super calm, met with the family that weekend, asked to be left alone so he could get a two-hour nap and won the game like it was something he was supposed to do.

[...] for his family.

Besides Luke, the Del Rios have three successful daughters — Lauren, Hope and Aubrey — who will all be on hand to cheer on the Raiders.

The defensive coordinator job in Denver from 2012-2014 was an ideal transition job, and one that came up because of Luke.

[...] we found a great one where he played with Christian McCaffrey and became an Elite 11 quarterback.

The Broncos’ defensive coordinator job became open because the Raiders hired away Dennis Allen to be their head coach.

The team has the coach’s confidence and, hopefully for him, the focus that his wife mentioned, as the Raiders try to shore up the league’s worst defense.

A win Sunday would mean that the Raiders are 4-0 on the road for the first time since 2000, when they reached the AFC Championship Game.

Raiders DL Jihad Ward and LB Shilique Calhoun.

The Jaguars can’t run (ranked 31st) and Blake Bortles gets sacked a lot, so this seems to be a good spot for the second- and third-round picks.

Raiders — T Vadal Alexander (ankle) is doubtful; RB Latavius Murray (toe), C Rodney Hudson (knee) and G Gabe Jackson (knee) are listed as questionable but are expected to play.

Raiders WR Amari Cooper has 16 catches for 267 yards the past two games and is tied for first in the NFL with seven receptions of at least 25 yards.

Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson looks to break out against the Raiders.

Raiders-Jaguars a matchup of young, standout QBs

Derek Carr and Blake Bortles are the only quarterbacks from the 2014 NFL draft class currently standing, and they both had the same guy help prop them up.

Olson had the tough job of being Carr’s teacher his rookie year when the receiver-deficient Raiders started 0-10.

[...] Carr leads a 4-2 team into Jacksonville, throwing for 12 touchdowns against three interceptions and carrying the league’s worst-ranked defense.

While no one would say going 0-10 is good for you, Olson thinks the rough start helped Carr develop some “mental and physical toughness.”

A lot of the responsibility that goes on in terms of leadership for a quarterback to be able to stand up in front of the team or in front of the media and be able to handle the scrutiny of something like that,” Olson said, “I think it just shows a tremendous amount of mental toughness and mental fortitude.

Carr said Olson paid extra care to make sure he didn’t take any unnecessary hits.

[...] he’s learned to read things better, with experience and his next offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

For his career, Carr has completed 61 percent of his passes in 38 starts for 8,865 yards and 65 touchdowns with 28 interceptions.

Last week, the Jaguars came back from a 13-0 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Bears 17-16, thanks to increased use of the no-huddle offense.

Olson and head coach Gus Bradley will decide when they want to use the no-huddle against the Raiders — right after the offensive coordinator shares some tips on how to beat Carr.

Raiders’ Latavius Murray expected to return against Jaguars

Raiders’ Latavius Murray expected to return against Jaguars Running back Latavius Murray was limited for a third straight practice Friday, but the Raiders expect him to play Sunday in Jacksonville. Oakland (4-2) gained 445 yards rushing on 76 carries the first three games (5.9-yard average), and 216 on 61 the past three (3.5). “I think the big thing is that with Murray, he’s a phenomenal back,” said Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. The Raiders left Friday for 10 days, as they are staying in Sarasota, Fla., between their games at Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.

Raiders reunite Bruce Irvin, Perry Riley Jr.

[...] this one, the Raiders’ outside linebacker admits, is too good to pass up.

“Fourth grade,” Irvin says, without a hint of a smile.

The Friday before he signed with the Raiders, Riley was talking to his mom about which team he wanted to play for.

Surprised that he had been cut by Washington, Riley wanted to stay close to his Stone Mountain, Ga., home and told his mom he hoped the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers called.

Or the Oakland Raiders.

[...] there was a spirited basketball game — “We used to go neighborhood versus neighborhood, serious stuff, like we were playing for money,” Irvin said — and the two weren’t roughing up each other, but on the same team.

[...] Irvin, a few lockers down, yells out, Stop talking about all this personal stuff.

Football, basketball, kickball … ask him. …

Irvin was the quarterback and Riley the running back, with both playing linebacker on defense, in middle school and into high school.

“They rode to school together, had sleepovers, were always in each other’s yard,” Perry Riley Sr. said.

The next year, Irvin dropped out of high school to earn money to help his mother and spent three weeks in jail on larceny challenges.

Irvin passed his GED the following year and got his football career back on track at Mt.

Irvin actually cracks a smile when asked about his new teammate as a player.

Running back Latavius Murray (toe) was limited again in his second straight day of practice Thursday, but the coaches are hopeful he will play Sunday. …

Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said that the league’s worst-ranked defense doesn’t need wholesale changes, “if you believe in your players, (if) you believe in your coaches.”

There are a lot of plays that we have great communication on and people want to just bring out the ones you have bad communication on.

Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Vic Tafur’s NFL picks for Week 7

Vic Tafur’s NFL picks for Week 7

Injuries to both running backs make it a tossup.

Raiders at Jaguars (-1): Everyone in Vegas is betting on Oakland this week, from politicians with large suitcases of taxpayer money to sports bettors.

European fans might enjoy the dirty play of the Rams.

Saints at Chiefs (-6.5): Two teams that have pictures of the Raiders’ defense in their lockers.

Browns at Bengals (-10): One story line:

The Browns are awful and opposing teams can’t get fired up to play them.

Miami finally had its offensive line healthy and beat Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Colts at Titans (-3): What happened to all the great quarterbacks?

Ravens at Jets (-2): Nobody loves Geno Smith.

Even his mom is taking Baltimore in the quarterback’s first start this season.

Chargers at Falcons (-6.5): Two overrated teams.

People in Vegas think they get some free money back here, as Pittsburgh is without its best players on offense (Big Ben) and defense (Cameron Hayward).

Seahawks at Cardinals (-2): Arizona would be 16-0 if it played the 49ers and Jets every week.

Texans at Broncos (-9): Brock Osweiler could have stayed with the Super Bowl champs but left for more money in Houston.

Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Betting Odds, Analysis, NFL Pick

Two teams that both had higher expectations this season will square off Sunday in a game critical for each of them as the Oakland Raiders (4-2) visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) in a near pick’em matchup. The Jaguars have won two in a row following an 0-3 start, while the Raiders have three wins by a combined five points and are coming off a brutal home loss to a divisional foe.


Point spread: The Jaguars opened as 1.5-point favorites; the total was 49 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).

NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 29.6-19.0 Jaguars (NFL picks on every game)


Why the Raiders can cover the spread

Bettors are still trying to decide if Oakland is a contender or a pretender after the first quarter of the season, and last week’s 26-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs might make them think the latter.

However, the team’s official website noted running back Latavius Murray and right tackle Menelik Watson both returned to practice on Wednesday in limited fashion. They could return to action, which would help take pressure off young quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders are 6-0 against the spread after failing to cover consecutive games, and they are 3-0 straight up on the road already this year.


Why the Jaguars can cover the spread

Jacksonville has put together back-to-back wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears, and the team is just one game back of the AFC South-leading Houston Texans in the loss column.

Houston visits the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos on Monday night, so this is a great chance for the Jaguars to make up some more ground and move closer to the division lead. They are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings with Oakland and 5-2 ATS in their last seven versus winning teams.


Smart pick

As alluded to earlier, these teams have hopes of finishing with a winning record and possibly making the playoffs. That remains a possibility for whichever one can keep winning, making this a very important game.

Jacksonville should not be overly excited about its latest victory against the 1-5 Bears, as the team is 0-11 SU and 1-10 ATS in its last 11 at home after covering its most recent game there. Take the Raiders.


Betting trends

The Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the Jaguars.

The Jaguars are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records.

The Raiders are 6-0 ATS in their last six games after consecutive ATS losses.


All NFL betting lines and point spreads data courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and Odds Shark YouTube for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

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Raiders receivers are enjoying the bounty — except tight ends

Raiders receivers are enjoying the bounty — except tight ends

The way Amari Cooper was going in the first half Sunday, one can imagine Raiders quarterback Derek Carr going back to the huddle and saying, “Coop, it’s coming your way again.”

If that sounds a little strange, Carr said he also didn’t know that Cooper had only one catch in the second half, when the offense took a dirt nap.

Tight ends are all the rage in the NFL, except in Oakland.

Because now he’ll get more reps.

Walford missed the previous week’s game with a knee injury but only had 13 catches for 125 yards in the first four games.

Not a lot of bang for the buck for a 2015 third-round pick who is being asked to do more with tight end Lee Smith out with a broken leg.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is all in favor of that.

Offensive flow, just to get the ball moving, I think you’d like to involve all of your guys, he said.

Jaguars’ Myles Jack gets to show Raiders what he can do

Back when former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack slipped past the Raiders at No. 14 in the first round of April’s NFL draft, he told reporters, “I knew it wasn’t going to be my night.”

The Raiders drafted safety Karl Joseph instead, despite a glaring need at middle linebacker, and really haven’t looked back — but they will get a close look at Jack on Sunday in Jacksonville.

Joseph, who also was coming off knee surgery, has started the past four games at safety and has 29 solo tackles, an interception and three passes broken up.

Jack has started the past two games at outside linebacker and has six solo tackles and one pass defensed this season.

A couple of weeks ago, we had an injury at the outside linebacker spot.

[...] tackle Menelik Watson (calf) returned to practice, and defensive end Mario Edwards (hip) did not.

Raiders owner Mark Davis makes case for Vegas to NFL owners

Raiders owner Mark Davis makes case for Vegas to NFL owners

“Oakland was in the driver’s seat if they could’ve put together anything,” Davis said Wednesday at the NFL’s fall meetings, after updating his fellow owners on his desire to relocate to the gambling capital.

Several owners insisted it’s far too early to reach any conclusions in the Raiders’ relocation issue, and none of them wanted to touch the relationship an NFL team might have with a casino mogul.

[...] Davis plans to play the next two years in Oakland because the team has a lease with two one-year options there.

[...] they nail everything down, we don’t know what we’re looking at.

Run-game revival is on Raiders’ Florida to-do list

Oakland (4-2) was first in the league in rushing through three games, but has sputtered and is now 13th (averaging 110 yards a game) heading into back-to-back games at Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.

The Raiders do plan to have starting running back Latavius Murray out of mothballs, after he missed two games with a toe injury.

Murray was injured in the Oct. 2 win at Baltimore, and the Raiders have averaged 72 yards rushing in the past three games, less than half of the 148 they averaged the first three.

Rookie running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard (each of whom is 5-foot-8) have shown flashes of ability but might be better suited to a third-down role.

In Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, the Raiders were stuck in the mud, running for 28 yards on 10 carries in the first half, before finishing with 65.

Fullback Jamize Olawale, who has more rushing touchdowns (two) than Washington and Richard combined, was not given a touch despite the conditions calling for a bigger back.

When you look at running the football and getting everybody their carries, typically you’re going to do some of the things outside of the running game to help that happen; converting third downs, playing better defense. …

Quarterback Derek Carr was careful to praise the two rookies when talking after Sunday’s game about how much the offense missed Murray.

The 26-year-old had 14 carries in the season-opening win at New Orleans, and dating to his first career start in December 2014, the Raiders are 10-4 when Murray gets 14 or more carries.