NFL Funnel Defense Ratings: Bet on Philip Rivers vs. Raiders Defense in Week 10
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17).
- Funnel defenses are successful at defending either the run or the pass, but not both.
- Ryan Collinsworth explains how to leverage Week 10 ratings of these defenses in fantasy football and betting.
Action Network senior editor Bryan Mears introduced the funnel defense metric last season, and after a brief hiatus, it has made its glorious return.
These ratings use advanced data to analyze situations in which teams are more likely to pass or run than they usually do. For a comprehensive explanation of how Bryan developed this metric, check out his take here.
Let’s start with a brief recap, then dig into the Week 10 ratings and how to leverage them.
Funnel Defense Explained
Funnel defenses are successful at defending either the run or the pass, but not both. Strong funnel defenses are so good against either the run or the pass that they tend to “funnel” offensive play-calling toward their complementary weakness.
Measuring the Strength of a Funnel Defense
Using data to quantify the strength of a defensive funnel is complex. We must weigh several factors simultaneously:
- How good is a defense versus the running game and passing game? We employ Football Outsiders’ DVOA to measure this.
- What is the difference between DVOA production defending the run versus the pass? If the differential is great, it would imply the probability of a funnel.
- How good is an offense in the running game and passing game? We can use DVOA here, as well.
- What is the difference between offensive DVOA production?
- What are the offense’s typical run/pass splits?
Our metric weighs each of these statistical factors and can produce weekly matchup-based ratings for each NFL team.
Week 10 Funnel Ratings
Check out our live odds page for the latest lines, spreads, totals and betting percentages.
Potential Shootout Games
By averaging the Pass Funnel ratings for both teams in a given matchup, we can more easily identify games that could favor a passing-game script on both sides. Heavy passing volume presents an opportunity for a potential shootout.
This week, our Combined Pass Funnel ratings boast a correlation of r=0.75 with the slate’s Vegas totals, which is encouraging for the internal validity of our metric.
Consider rostering or stacking players from these high-volume games in DFS, and also consider taking the over on these matchups.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders
This West Coast matchup boasts the highest Combined Pass Funnel Rating (77.41) on the slate with a healthy Vegas Total of 50. Our Pass Funnel Ratings suggest there could be sneaky DFS upside for the Raiders’ passing game, but the real value in this matchup lies with the Chargers.
The Chargers rank second in Offensive Pass DVOA (55.5%) and are spear-headed by resurgent veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers is fourth in the NFL in QBR (76.6) and fifth among quarterbacks in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (40.2%) among quarterbacks. He went 22-of-27, with 339 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders in Week 5.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are coming off an embarrassing blowout defeat against the 49ers. Quarterback Nick Mullens made his first NFL start, and Oakland’s poor pass defense (last in Pass Defense DVOA) made him look like an All-Pro passer. He went 16-of-22 for 262 yards and threw three touchdowns in that game.
Oakland seems to be in full tank mode, having traded away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and recently cutting edge rusher Bruce Irvin.
The Raiders are also dealing with significant injuries to their offensive line and face a brutal second-half schedule featuring the Ravens, Chiefs (twice), Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos, and Steelers. They’re 1-7 on the season, with their only win coming against the Browns at home in overtime.
While I have little faith in the Raiders to cover at home against L.A., they could offer some fantasy upside behind quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders drew an eerily similar Pass Funnel matchup against the Colts in Week 8.
That game featured a Combined Pass Funnel Rating of 77.01 with a 49.5 Vegas Total, and Carr threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-28 loss.
Potential Run Funnels
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
If you’re feeling tempted about this game… just fade it at all costs.
The Jets rank 29th in Offensive Pass DVOA (-22.5%), and Sam Darnold is coming off a miserable four-interception performance against the Dolphins.
With Darnold expected to miss Sunday’s matchup, backup Josh McCown may need to step in and contend with a Bills’ secondary that ranks third in Pass Defense DVOA (-11.5%).
Buffalo’s quarterback situation is even more of a mess, with an injury to starting quarterback Josh Allen and inept quarterback play from Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman. The Bills rank last in Offensive Pass DVOA (-72.5%) by a wide margin.
The next closest team, the Cardinals, have an Offensive Pass DVOA rating of -38.1%. Furthermore, the Jets’ defense is largely underrated, ranking sixth in Pass Defense DVOA (-6.0%).
Nothing about this game engenders much hope for meaningful offensive production on either side, but if you’re looking for a flier, consider Jets running back Elijah McGuire.
McGuire returned from Injured Reserve last week and out-snapped resident starter Isaiah Crowell. He also drew five pass targets and could be in line for extended rushing volume in a low-total grind-fest against the Bills this week.