July 5, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-15 at Pittsburgh
Upcoming matchup: July 8 vs Madison
In a reversal of their Week 9 second half surge in Chicago, the Mechanix held tight in the beginning before surrendering a 12-6 second half run to the Thunderbirds. Rookie Carson Chamberlain continues to show why he’s a true WR1 prospect with a gaudy 6-goal, 504 receiving yards showing in Week 10. Detroit has just four more opportunities to end the streak in 2023, with this Saturday’s hosting of a reeling Radicals team maybe being their best shot.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-16 at Austin
Upcoming matchup: July 8 vs Austin
With another bombastic 457-yard throwing performance against Austin, Jason Hustad (3,825) now only trails Pawel Janas (4,468) in throwing yards, and in two fewer games played. Hustad is also second in huck completions (25) and tied for sixth in assists (34). This is all a gentle way of setting up that Hustad also leads the league by a 15-turnover margin in throwaways; the distance between Hustad (42 throwaways) and the second most throwaways (Bryan Walsh, 27) is the same as between Walsh and the next 65 throwers.
22. Montreal Royal (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-10 vs Philadelphia
Upcoming matchup: July 21 at Boston
The Royal were held to just 10 goals in a game for the second time this season in Week 10, and completed just 89 percent of their throws. Montreal is now dead last in scoring (14.3 goals per game) and offensive efficiency (35 percent conversion rate). Part of the problem is field positioning, as Montreal generated a season-low eight red zone chances against Philly last Sunday.
21. Portland Nitro (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-16 vs Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Salt Lake
Portland has not scored more than 18 goals in a game since May 19, and have converted above 41 percent of their O-line possessions just once in their last four games. Quinn Buermeyer has been the team’s only consistent receiving target this season, and has multiple goals in each of his last six starts after registering just eight total goals as a rookie in 2022.
20. Houston Havoc (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-14 vs Atlanta
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Austin
Ben Lewis hasn’t become a different thrower this season—there’s no bag to speak of, and he’s just 1-for-1 on his lone huck attempt of the year—but he is more anchored in his approach, which has resulted in career highs in assists (15) and completions (130). And for an expansion team, Lewis’s presence has been especially important in providing stability in a Houston attack that defies roles or positions.
19. Madison Radicals (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-17 at Indianapolis
Upcoming matchup: July 7 vs Minnesota
The loss in Indianapolis confirmed the first losing season in the franchise’s 10-year history. Madison had just four blocks against the AlleyCats, the second-lowest single-game block total in team history; the lowest total of blocks in a game (3) for the Radicals was coincidentally enough when Indy earned their first-ever win against Madison on June 17, 2018. Victor Luo nearly tied the single-game Radicals record for completions in Week 10 by going 70-of-72 from the field.
18. Seattle Cascades (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-9 vs Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 15 vs San Diego
The nine goals the Cascades mustered in Week 10 is a new franchise low as the Cascades offense was just 6-of-32 (19 percent) on offensive possessions, the second lowest rate in a game this season. And with the loss, Seattle now has eight or more defeats in every season since 2018. Garrett Martin now has more assists in a single season (46) than any Cascades player in team history not named Mark Burton.
17. San Diego Growlers (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 26-16 vs Salt Lake
Upcoming matchup: July 14 at Portland
San Diego was within two goals of the Shred at the end of the third quarter before the proverbial wheels fell off (and caught on fire, in this case) in the final frame last Saturday night. The loss extends the Growlers streak to six games, which includes 20-or-more turnovers in four of their last five games. Following two seasons of spot starts on defensive rotations, 27-year-old UC-San Diego product Stefan Samu has transformed into a continuation weapon for the Growlers offense. Samu’s athleticism and 6’2” frame make him a prototypical receiving target, but it’s been his throws that have suddenly transformed from decent to dangerous; Samu is 48-for-48 on throws in his last three starts, and has two assists in each after totaling just three assists total over his first two pro seasons.
16. Toronto Rush (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-21 vs Boston
Upcoming matchup: July 15 at Detroit
Toronto’s Week 10 home loss puts them behind the eight-ball in terms of their playoff contention, but not entirely out of the picture. And with another white-hot receiving performance, Ty Barbieri is now the league leader in goals (39) and receiving yards (3,030) with three games to play. Barbieri has four starts in his last five appearances with at least 300 receiving yards, and has at least two goals in all nine of his games in his first season with the Rush. And with defenders scared of Barbieri’s playmaking, he’s been given more cushion to operate as a thrower, which has led to 10 assists and over 500 throwing yards in his last two games.
15. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (+3)
Most recent result: Win, 25-15 vs Detroit
Upcoming matchup: July 7 vs Chicago
Similar to his midsummer ascent in 2019 following his All-Star Game MVP performance, “Mad Max” Sheppard has returned in full form as Pittsburgh attempts to return to the playoffs for the first time since that season. In his last three starts Sheppard is averaging an eye-popping 10.7 scores, 29 completions, and 728 total yards per game, including back-to-back weeks with exactly 453 throwing yards. Sheppard now ranks first in the league in scores (7.8), 11th in total yards (511), and first in huck completions (3.5) on a per game basis*.
* Minimum three games played
14. Chicago Union (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-12 at Detroit
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Pittsburgh
After failing to register more than nine blocks in any of their first five games of 2023, the Union defense has built a little momentum with three straight double-digit block performances against two of the league’s worst offenses. Chicago ranks seventh overall in break rate thanks to their efficient counterattack led by Benjamin Preiss and Jake Steslicki, and a slight uptick in break chances could give the Union the edge they need to secure playoff spot.
13. Boston Glory (-)
Most recent result: Win, 24-21 at Toronto
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Philadelphia
Boston set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a game (8) while tying their second highest D-line conversion rate in their Week 10 win in Toronto. Both offensive and defensive rotations are clicking, and the new-look Boston attack has more versatility than ever before. Caelan McSweeney and Cole Davis-Brand have mirroring skill sets as rangy motion throwers, and Ray Tetreault is quickly becoming an all-around star as a striker. After a slower start to the season, Tetreault now has 10 goals and 862 receiving yards in his last three starts, including a career-best 424 receiving yards against the Rush.
12. Minnesota Wind Chill (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-15 at Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Madison
The Wind Chill’s quirky away-and-home, Friday-Sunday doubleheader against Madison and Indy in Week 11 will be vital in deciding who claims first place in the Central Division. And for the first time virtually all season, Minnesota will feature their full strength lineup of throwers, including the return of pulling specialist and big arm Sam Berglund who was absent in Colorado. In his last four starts Berglund is averaging 3.8 assists, 24 completions, and 189 throwing yards while anchoring the defense. His backline pulls and full field range as a handler give the Wind Chill D-line their edge in 2023.
11. Los Angeles Aviators (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-18 vs Salt Lake
Upcoming matchup: July 15 at Oakland
After a sluggish start and just six goals in the first half, the Aviators made a valiant rally in the second half thanks to another barrage of Lukas Ambrose blocks and an efficient D-line presence. Pawel Janas and Brandon Van Deusen are now first and second in overall completions this season, with Janas tallying nearly 200 more than his teammate challenger. That’s not the only gap Janas is increasing: the league’s all-time completions leader is now 673 throws (and counting) above second place Thomson McKnight on the all-time leaderboard, and 1,135 completions ahead of the nearest active player (Brandon Malecek).
10. Austin Sol (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 25-16 vs Dallas
Upcoming matchup: July 7 vs Houston
Yes, it was a nine-goal win at home. But for the fifth straight outing the Sol committed at least 22 turnovers. It’s been a precipitous decline for a team that was eighth in turnovers per game a season ago at 16.8, and now ranks 18th with over 21 per game in 2023. Evan Swiatek is just under 900 yards shy of joining the 10k career receiving yards club, and would join with only Ben Jagt and Andrew Sjogren (and soon Ryan Osgar) as members.
9. Philadelphia Phoenix (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-10 at Montreal
Upcoming matchup: July 7 vs Boston
Philly now has four straight games with 10 or more blocks, won five in a row, and has six straight games with 18 or fewer turnovers. The Phoenix D-line has scored double-digit breaks in back-to-back games while limiting Montreal to just 23 total goals; Philly’s defense ranks seventh in breaks per game (7.4) and eighth in D-line conversion rate (54 percent). 27-year-old Matt Hanna is breaking out in his third season in coverage and in the transition attack. Hanna has a block in four straight starts, including back-to-back games with two takeaways, and has nine total scores in just his last three games.
8. Indianapolis AlleyCats (-)
Most recent result: Win, 23-17 vs Madison
Upcoming matchup: July 9 at Minnesota
The AlleyCats followed up their Week 9 one-goal squeaker in Madison with their largest win ever against the Radicals in Week 10 to extend their win streak to seven games. It is Indy’s first-ever season sweep of the Radicals since Madison came into the league in 2013, and marks a full-fledged reversal of the longstanding divisional rivalry. The AlleyCats primary O-line throwing core of Travis Carpenter, Rick Gross, Keegan North, and Xavier Payne are the most in-rhythm unit in the league outside of Salt Lake, with all four throwers registering at least 237 completions and a 95.6 completion rating this season. If their league-leading 13.1 turnovers per game rate holds over their final three games of their schedule, Indy would finish with the second lowest rate ever.
7. Oakland Spiders (-1)
Most recent result: Win, 24-23 vs Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 8 vs Portland
Oakland finishes their schedule with four games in the next three weeks, including two meetings with LA, which means the Spiders will have to use all eight legs to hit the ground running after not playing since June 17. The team will potentially be without some big names in Dexter Clyburn, Chris Lung, and Evan Magsig this weekend, making Mac Hecht’s return all the more instrumental. Hecht leads the Spiders in assists (4.6), completions (51), throwing yards (445), and huck completions per game (2.1) in his seven starts. With the Shred ending LA’s winning streak last Friday, Oakland now assumes the inside track on the third and final playoff spot in the West Division barring any miscues.
6. Colorado Summit (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 18-9 at Seattle
Upcoming matchup: July 14 vs New York
Even without team leaders Jonathan Nethercutt and Cody Spicer on the Week 10 road trip, the Summit handled their competition thanks to another pair of strong defensive efforts. Colorado is now averaging just shy of 10 break scores per game over their last four outings, and the team’s primary puller Seth Faris has really been coming into his own in his second season. With a large ape index, great reads, and heaps of athleticism, Faris has always been disruptive in coverage. But this season he’s added a level to his counterattacking play, with just one throwaway in 2023 and coming off career highs in goals (3) and receiving yards (221) against Seattle.
5. DC Breeze (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-18 at New York
Upcoming matchup: July 8 vs Boston
Minus a few starters, the Breeze couldn’t quite get the pressure they needed and managed just five blocks in New York last Friday. It was DC’s ninth loss in their last 10 meetings against the Empire, and their second straight game against their closest rivals where they failed to establish a reliable deep attack. Despite boasting one of the most talented throwing lineups in the league, the Breeze were just 5-of-12 on hucks in Week 10, and now rank 21st in the AUDL with a 53 percent huck completion rating for the season. Without the ability to stretch defenses and keep defenders honest, opposing coverages are able to target and disrupt more of DC’s smallball movement, which has led to an uncharacteristic 37 turnovers in DC’s last two games.
4. Atlanta Hustle (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 23-12 at Dallas
Upcoming matchup: July 15 at Carolina
Since the start of the 2021 season, Atlanta has reduced their mistakes every year, and currently rank second in the league with just 14.3 turnover per game. There’s a lot of pieces responsible for the Hustle’s smooth play, but it’s impossible to deny the effect of receiving legend Matt Smith. In his ninth pro season, Smith is on pace for the highest production, fewest turnover season in league history. He currently leads the team in total scores (43) and is averaging 269 total yards per game, with his lone turnover of the season coming on May 27. Smith has now scored a goal in 15 straight games, and continues to move closer to becoming the second player ever to total 400 career goals. Fun fact: Bobby Ley has moved into fifth place all-time in total completions (3,190) this season.
3. Carolina Flyers (-)
Most recent result: Win, 22-20 at Austin
Upcoming matchup: July 15 vs Atlanta
Despite employing a wide variety of rotations and mixing units on both lines in 2023, Carolina remains one of the hardest offenses to crack. For the third straight season, the Flyers are top five in the AUDL in allowing the fewest opponent break scores per game, with opponents eking out just over four D-line scores per contest. Carolina averages just north of 21 scores per game, meaning there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing offenses to produce essentially 17 holds per game to keep pace; Oakland ranks first overall this season averaging exactly 17 holds per game, while the second ranked Flyers average just under 15.
2. Salt Lake Shred (-)
Most recent result: Win, 26-16 at San Diego
Upcoming matchup: July 7 vs Portland
The Shred machine is only improving its programming as the season progresses, as the team averaged just 11.5 turnovers per game over their last four victories. Salt Lake’s offense converted on a season-high 88 percent of their O-line points in San Diego last Saturday, and the team has completed 23-of-29 (79 percent) of their deep shots against their last three opponents. Speedster Will Selfridge has elevated to a new level as a distributor over the last month, going from 18 completions per game in his first six starts to 26 per game in his last four, while simultaneously decreasing his throwaway rate. Selfridge has also been spelling onto D-line rotations, earning three blocks in only 16 defensive points played in his last four appearances.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 21-18 vs DC
Upcoming matchup: July 14 vs Colorado
With a combined 20 takeaways so far in 2023—including 13 for Ryan Drost in eight starts, tying him for eighth overall in the league in blocks this season—the Drost twins continue their unstoppable march to become the first two players in league history to reach 200 career blocks. And with 10 or more blocks in eight of their nine games this season, the Empire currently rank number one in takeaways per game (12.3) in the AUDL. Offenses are converting a league-low 40 percent of their offensive possessions against the New York D-line in 2023, and the Empire continue to get pressure on all three levels of coverage against any team in the league. Ryan Osgar put it perfectly in this week’s Tuesday Toss, “A team might outplay us for a quarter, but it’s been literal years since I’ve seen us lose two quarters in a row.”
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