June 2, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
25. Detroit Mechanix (Previously 25th)
Mac Hecht and Johnny Bansfield completed 45-of-46 throws combined while leading the most formidable Detroit counterattack in years, and the Mechanix still could not hold on for the win at home against Indy. The Mechanix D-line generated four break scores, equaling the combined total of their first three games of the season. And the 16 turnovers Detroit committed in the loss were the fewest in a full regulation game for the Mechanix since June 1, 2019. Detroit continues to edge closer to breaking the streak, but still remain at an impasse.
24. Tampa Bay Cannons (Previously 24th)
After taking a 16-12 lead at home midway through the third quarter against Pittsburgh last Saturday, the Cannons were outscored 12-3 in the remaining 17 minutes of gameplay, including just one goal in the fourth quarter. For the second consecutive game, Tampa Bay completed 10 hucks, as throwers Brandon Perales and Jaime Perez continued to show off the range, combining for 10 assists and nearly 900 throwing yards in Week 5. And yet the Cannons failed to score 20 goals for the fourth time in 2022, putting them last in the league in scoring.
23. Oakland Spiders (Previously 21st)
After a bye in Week 5, the Spiders face a grueling road challenge going back-to-back versus Salt Lake and Colorado this weekend. And with no Justin Norden nor Matt Crawford, second year thrower Christopher Lung could take center stage in the Spiders attack. Lung leads the team in assists (8) and blocks (4), and is tied with Keenan Laurence for total scores (12) through two games. If Lung gets a good look with his forehand, he can do a lot of damage downfield as Portland found out in Week 4 when the Spiders thrower connected on three hucks and accounted for over 400 yards through the air.
22. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (Previously 23rd)
After struggling to get breaks in their first four games of the season—including zero against the Union in Week 1—the Thunderbirds D-line came through with 10 in their Week 5 comeback win in Tampa Bay. Veterans Anson Reppermund and Steve Mogielski each made highlight-reel grabs to ignite the T-Birds defensive energy, but it was a true team effort from Pitt’s defenders. Thunderbirds entered the weekend last in scoring, but Clint McSherry anchored an attack that converted an impressive 64 percent of their offensive possessions against the Cannons, including a season-high 10 huck completions.
21. Ottawa Outlaws (Previously 18th)
In one of the weirder scheduling quirks, the Outlaws already played in Week 6 last night (Wednesday!) and lost to the Royal in Ottawa. It was the Outlaws fourth straight loss after winning their home opener against Boston, and the fourth straight game the team has allowed 23 or more goals; Ottawa is surrendering 26.5 goals per game during their current four-game skid, and are third worst overall this season. The Outlaws haven’t figured out how to defend deep space, and are giving up more than 13 huck completions per game, by far the worst rate in the league; for comparison, Portland has the best deep attack offense in the league, and is completing just over 11 hucks per game. The Outlaws offense committed less than 20 turnovers for the third time in five games, but it’s not enough to keep pace with torrid scoring of their opponents.
20. Dallas Legion (Previously 19th)
In need of a jolt, 2019 Integrity Award winner and spark plug defender Griffin Miller will be making his season debut tomorrow night as Dallas gets set to host Carolina. The Legion and Flyers competed in the South Division championship for three straight seasons from 2017 through 2019, with Dallas winning each time to advance to Championship Weekend, including in their last matchup. A lot—cannot emphasize this enough—has changed since then, including most of Dallas’s roster. But the Legion could show some pride this weekend looking for their first win against their old nemesis at home.
19. Indianapolis AlleyCats (Previously 20th)
Nobody is more at home than Keegan North is in Indy’s offense. After spending a year with the Union as a rotational piece in their offense, North has resumed the striker role that made him so dangerous for the ‘Cats in 2019 and is putting up NASA-grade numbers. Through the first month of the season, North is third in assists per game (6.0) and scores per game (8.5), seventh in total yards per game (629), and is top 15 in hucks completing nearly three per game. Indy’s offensive chemistry continues to be underrated—the AlleyCats and the Sol are the only two teams remaining to have scored 20 or more goals in every game this season—and is currently sixth in offensive conversion rate, just behind Carolina.
18. Seattle Cascades (Previously 22nd)
Nothing better than a wet game at home for the ‘Scades to earn their first win of 2022, out grinding and out executing Portland in every quarter. Seattle were nothing if not opportunistic, turning 29 Nitro turnovers into 13 break scores; the Cascades were perfect in the red zone, converting on all 17 of their goal line chances. And while he will never win an MVP, Adam Simon is as important for this Seattle team as any accoladed star. The 39-year-old thrower now has 14 assists and over 1100 throwing yards in two appearances this season, and Seattle is averaging 25 goals per game when Simon is active compared to 18.8 without him.
17. Toronto Rush (Previously 15th)
The Rush are a different team at home, and their deep attack offense nearly caught the Breeze off guard in Week 5. Toronto has completed 30 hucks in their last two games at Varsity Stadium while scoring 55 goals, with their young playmakers finding rhythm on many continuation routes. Luc Comire has 11 assists, 126 completions (nine hucks), and 1,445 throwing yards in his last two home games, and currently leads the league in passing yards. The inability to hold on to their lead is the hallmark of any young team, but Toronto is in a very good spot if they can punch so freely with a team as talented as DC.
16. Los Angeles Aviators (Previously 17th)
Similar to their West Division rivals from Oakland, LA also has their own two-game road trip test coming up in Week 6 as the Aviators face off in Portland and Seattle. It’s a make-or-break weekend for Los Angeles as they sit just a half game behind Portland for fourth in the division, and anything less than splitting games could plummet the Aviators in the standings of a very competitive West. LA is last in blocks per game, averaging under six per game in 2022, which could present challenges against Nitro and Cascades teams that can put up a lot of goals at home. Sam Cook is off to a career-best start, averaging seven scores and nearly 450 yards of total offense per game.
15. Boston Glory (Previously 14th)
Facing a big weekend on the road against the second and fifth place teams in a tightening East Division playoff race, Boston is bringing a light travel roster into Week 6 that could spell trouble. Glory were down a few starters in their Week 2 road trip as well, and dropped both games to Ottawa and Montreal while scoring just 36 goals total. After averaging 550 yards and nearly six scores per game last season, Ben Sadok has seen his production numbers diminish by over 150 yards and a score per game in 2022; Glory could use a takeover game from the 2021 All-AUDL member.
14. Madison Radicals (Previously 13th)
The Radicals traded scores with Wind Chill throughout the first half before a big third quarter by Minnesota blew the game wide open. It was the fourth straight loss to the rival Wind Chill—and third in their last four games at Breese Stevens—an unprecedented streak for the Radicals. Even more unprecedented was the team’s low pressure on defense, as Madison registered season lows in both blocks (6) and break scores (3) against Minnesota in Week 5.
13. Montreal Royal (Previously 12th)
Montreal continues to prove itself to be the cream of the crop of Canadian teams, dispatching Ottawa last night to end the Royal’s three-game losing streak. The difference for this Montreal team comes down to the deep ball: In their four wins the Royal are averaging 9.3 huck completions per game, compared to just four per game in their three losses. Jakob Brissette, Kevin Quinlan, and the rest of the Royal throwing core are rhythm passers, and when they have the deep shot available, they’ve proven over the past two seasons to be as explosive as any offense in the East.
12. Philadelphia Phoenix (Previously 16th)
Philly is coming off a bye following their two-win Week 4 road trip in Canada, and are preparing to host Boston on Saturday in a big get-back game for the Phoenix. Since Glory completed 12-of-16 hucks in their 25-24 win over Philly in Week 1, the Phoenix defense has clamped down on deep space, not allowing an opponent over 50 percent huck completion rate while allowing just 17.5 goals per game in their last four games; Philly is seventh in the AUDL this season in opponent huck rate. Rookie Max Trifillis is tied for the team lead in blocks with seven so far this season, and has been a big presence in open field coverage.
11. Portland Nitro (Previously 8th)
Without some starters and defensive depth, the Nitro got blown out on the road in Seattle because of their over reliance on the longball. Leandro Marx and Raphy Hayes accounted for 19 scores and over 1,200 yards of offense, but also combined for 12 total turnovers. When Portland can play their uptempo offense, they look like a contender in the West. But Week 5’s setback showed the Nitro to be unpolished in ways that might hurt them in a tough four-way race atop the division.
10. Austin Sol (Previously 11th)
After losing to Carolina in Week 4, the Sol have a terrific opportunity at home for payback this Saturday night in the “AUDL Game Of The Week”. Last season, Austin committed over 22 turnovers per game, and ranked in the bottom five of the league. In 2022, the Sol have yet to commit 20 turnovers in a game, and currently sit ninth with just under 18 per game. Austin is much more disciplined in letting their main passers take the majority of the shots as Jake Radack, Paul Starkel, and Mark Evans are all equipped with a variety of throws.
9. Minnesota Wind Chill (Previously 10th)
Ever since Bryan Vohnoutka’s jump block pandemonium finish to last year’s Week 1 classic, Minnesota has flipped the historical rivalry with Madison on its head, winning four in a row, with the last two coming in convincing fashion. The Wind Chill offense is very well equipped and capable at defeating Madison’s zone and many defensive looks, with Josh Klane, Tony Poletto, and Will Brandt anchoring the Minnesota attack by adeptly finding soft spots with their touch throws. Defensively the Wind Chill have figured out the Radicals, and are holding Madison to just 17 scores per game over their last four matchups.
8. San Diego Growlers (Previously 9th)
The Growlers are enjoying a two-week bye before hosting an increasingly vulnerable looking Portland team in Week 7. Despite dealing with some injuries, Sean McDougall leads the team in scores (27) and receiving yards (895) through his first four games with San Diego. The receiving group of McDougall, Travis Dunn, Hunter Corbett, and Kyle Rubin are newer as a unit, but possess a lot of speed and utility together, particularly as continuation options for each other.
7. Chicago Union (Previously 7th)
Chicago finally ends their multi-week hiatus from play with a matchup against a Detroit team that hasn’t won a game in three seasons. After a super promising rookie season, Eli Artemakis is set to make his 2022 debut against the Mechanix; Artemakis had three goals and 194 receiving yards in his last matchup with Detroit, and could easily double those figures in calm conditions on Saturday. Chicago’s offense will also return Paul Arters to the lineup, who averaged over 25 yards per touch the last time he faced the Mechanix defense.
6. Salt Lake Shred (Previously 5th)
This young Shred team held a lead late into the second half on the road in a raucous environment, and narrowly missed their second huge road win of the early season. Without some offensive starters, Jordan Kerr slotted into a heavier throwing role and flourished, finishing with a game-high eight assists and continually punching in clutch scores in the third and fourth quarters. Kerr now faces his former Spiders team tomorrow night, and it could be another big offensive showcase for Salt Lake at home following the tough loss to Colorado.
5. DC Breeze (Previously 3rd)
In what figured to be a blowout favoring the Breeze, DC barely escaped with the W in Toronto thanks to Rowan McDonnell’s best game since 2019. The Breeze offense has been the second best unit through the first month of the season, only trailing the historically great performance of New York. But the DC defense continues to struggle to disarm opponents, letting an inexperienced Rush offense go deep all game long. The bright side is if DC can generate just a few more takeaways—the Breeze are 20th in blocks per game—they have the second most efficient D-line counterattack in the league.
4. Colorado Summit (Previously 6th)
The Summit are committing more than 22 turnovers per game and are still just one of four remaining undefeated teams, perched alone atop the West Division standings after vanquishing Salt Lake. Jay Froude played like the number one overall pick from the 2019 All-Star Game, racking up 11 scores and nearly 700 yards of offense without a turnover, and showcasing a deep arsenal of throws. The playmaking on this team is off the charts, and now they debut one of the best young talents in Danny Landesman to go alongside Quinn Finer and Alex Atkins as offensive options for Jon Nethercutt. Colorado is still figuring a lot of things out as an expansion team, but they already possess the most important attribute: knowing how to win in tight games, thanks to their host of veteran stars.
3. Atlanta Hustle (Previously 4th)
Bobby Ley and Brad Seuntjens return to Florida to face their former team for the first time this weekend, and along with former Cannons defender Michael Fairley, the trio could prove difference makers for the Hustle against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Ley lived up to expectations in his Atlanta debut in Week 4, complementing Austin Taylor in the backfield and finishing 3-of-4 on hucks with 240 throwing yards. Seuntjens has been even more impressive, leading the team in receiving yards (714) through three games and looking like the player that scored 42 goals for the Cannons in 2019.
2. Carolina Flyers (Previously 2nd)
The Flyers return Henry Fisher and Eric Taylor this weekend as the team gets ready for a road back-to-back in Texas heat. In their absence Jacob Fairfax has been a stabilizing force for the offense, and an important block getter in transition. He leads Carolina in receiving yards (1025) and is tied for the lead in blocks (4), and is second in scores (15), goals (10), total yards (1470), and huck completions (6). His scoring numbers may have diminished from his 40-goal peak of 2017 and 2019, but Fairfax remains one of the most important pieces for this Flyers team.
1. New York Empire (Previously 1st)
With 2022 Callahan winner John Randolph set to make his debut this weekend—and now news of the return of defender Jibran Mieser, also set to debut in Toronto—New York are adding two top tier playmakers to a lineup that already looked like the best in the league this season. The Empire’s 71 percent offensive conversion rate is the highest mark ever, and it feels like a sustainable number for a unit that has Ryan Osgar simply refusing to make mistakes any more, and is completing 98 percent of his throws while leading the league in scoring. It might be time to start discussing not just if but how probable it is for the Empire to go undefeated for the second time in three seasons.
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