June 14, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 28-18 at Pittsburgh
Rookie Carson Chamberlain has multiple goals in all four of his starts, and the Mechanix are not bottom-two in offensive efficiency for the first time since 2013. But the losing streak persists, as do the turnovers. The Mechanix commit over four turnovers for every one block they earn this season.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 27-19 vs Carolina
He started the season on defense, but Jake Floyd has plugged in nicely as a thrower for the Dallas offense and helped give them some spark in their last three games. Floyd is completing nearly 96 percent of his throws and shows nice range with his forehand, providing a much-needed distributor alongside Jason Hustad.
22. Montreal Royal (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-12 vs Boston
After scoring 20 goals in their first game of the season, Montreal has managed just 49 goals in their last four outings, dropping their per game average to the lowest mark in league history (13.8). Montreal’s four home games have all included troublesome throwing conditions, but that’s only part of the explanation for the complete power outage. After finishing the 2021 season fourth in takeaways per game, the Royal now rank fourth worst just two short years later.
21. Portland Nitro (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 29-11 vs Los Angeles
The Nitro’s 11 goals in Week 7 were the fewest of the franchise’s 18-game existence, and the defense managed just one break score on two opportunities. Opposing offenses are converting over 63 percent of their possessions into scores, the highest rate in the league.
20. Houston Havoc (-)
Most recent result: Win, 21-19 vs Dallas
In 13 appearances over a two-year stint in Dallas from 2018-19, Connor Ughetta had a combined eight assists and 104 completions. The former Texas A&M product has nearly doubled those totals in his first seven games with Houston, and is coming off a 21-for-21, 228 passing yard performance in the Havoc’s win over his former team. Ughetta shows a nice range with his forehand, and his years spent as a defender give him good instincts on where to expose defensive coverages.
19. Toronto Rush (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 27-23 vs Philadelphia
The Rush succeeded in turning last week’s game against the Phoenix into a track meet as they love to do at home, but couldn’t match Philly’s deep attack and conceded a season-high 27 goals. Ty Barbieri and James Lewis filled up the stat sheet and made countless big plays, but also committed five of the team’s 17 total turnovers. Toronto’s final six games feature just two matchups against teams with winning records, leaving a considerable amount of their 2023 destiny in the Rush’s hands.
18. Seattle Cascades (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-23 vs Los Angeles
Seattle is sixth in scoring and probably first in highlight plays this season despite only notching one win in their first seven games. Garrett Martin is second in the league in total scores (51) and fifth in total yardage (3,798), switching easily between QB1 and WR1 roles. Khalif El-Salaam is throwing fireballs in 2023, and has completed 82 percent of his 17 huck attempts, and is tied for sixth in completed hucks (14).
17. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-)
Most recent result: Win, 28-18 vs Detroit
After an off night in Madison in Week 6, Max Sheppard racked up nine total scores and over 700 yards of offense against Detroit as the T-Birds snapped their three-game skid in Week 7. The remaining teams on Pittsburgh’s schedule have just a combined 14-18 record, giving the Thunderbirds a clear path back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The Thunderbirds are committing 14.3 turnovers per game in their wins this season, and 23 per game in their losses, so it all could simply boil down to decision making.
16. Madison Radicals (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-17 at Minnesota
Four losses by five goals, three of them coming in the final minute, and two in the final two seconds, is about as agonizing as things can get. And yet for all their woes, the Radicals still sit just outside of the third and final playoff spot in the Central, with a must-win matchup against Minnesota in this coming Saturday’s “Game Of The Week”. Anthony Gutowsky continues his receiving tear with nine goals and over 400 receiving yards in his last two games. He ranks third among rookies and 19th in the AUDL with 18 goals.
15. San Diego Growlers (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-17 at Oakland
With back-to-back games of 20-plus turnovers and three straight losses, the Growlers are at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2017 in a crowded West Division race. San Diego was a catastrophic 14-of-25 (56 percent) on red zone opportunities in Oakland last weekend, and now ranks 19th in the AUDL in red zone conversion rate for the season. Short field execution used to be the bread and butter for this Growlers offense, but there’s been a lot of early season adjustments leading to small miscues that have quickly added up.
14. Chicago Union (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 26-17 at Indianapolis
Chicago hasn’t lost to Indy twice in one season since 2018, so Saturday’s nine-goal defeat in Indianapolis for the Union was especially bitter. Jack Shanahan had a career-high seven goals and Andrew Sjogren tallied 531 receiving yards, and yet Chicago could only muster 17 goals and a 47 percent offensive conversion rate indoors. Chicago isn’t committing an abundance of turnovers, but they’re struggling to play defense when they do—opposing defenses are converting 58 percent of their chances against the Union, the fourth highest rate in the league this season.
13. Boston Glory (-3)
Most recent result: Win, 22-12 at Montreal
Boston bounced back from Friday’s six-goal loss to Atlanta with a 10-goal win on Sunday in Montreal, Glory’s second win against the Royal in the last three weeks. The defense now has three games with 10 or more break scores in the first six games this season; Boston had four such performances in 24 games between 2021 and 2022. Rocco Linehan is tied for the team lead in assists despite playing two thirds of his points on D-line, and has the kind of arm talent and aggressiveness with the disc to take advantage in transition.
12. Los Angeles Aviators (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 25-23 at Seattle
Something clicked. Pawel Janas had 10 throwaways and three drops in his first three games as an Aviator, and has had just three turnovers total in his last four starts since May 19. During that stretch Janas has gone nuclear, averaging six assists, 67 completions, and over 500 passing yards per game while the Aviators are flying on a three-game winning streak. And yet, as impressive as Janas has been, Sean McDougall has been the team’s MVP through the first half of the season. McDougall had 16 goals in Week 7 alone, and has three straight games with 300-plus receiving yards. He’s currently third in the league in total scores, and is tied for the second fewest turnovers among the top 15 scorers.
11. Philadelphia Phoenix (-)
Most recent result: Win, 27-23 at Toronto
The Hotbirds have been on fire from deep, with three games of 12 or more hucks in their last four outings, including a season-high 17 in Toronto last Saturday. James Pollard has been a madman with the disc in 2023 and has 41 huck completions in his last 20 starts dating back to the beginning of last season. He has multi-huck games in five of his seven starts this year, including four games in a row. With Philly reasserting their aerial superiority after struggling to start the season, and the Phoenix defense continuing to execute impressive break drives, the Phoenix look poised for a big playoff push.
10. Indianapolis AlleyCats (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 26-17 vs Chicago
Only New York and Salt Lake have longer active winning streaks than the resurgent ‘Cats, who have turned the disc over just 38 times in their last three games, including a 10-turn, nine-goal blowout of the Union in Week 7. There’s nothing overly complicated about Indy’s success: They don’t make many mistakes on offense, and they take advantage of defensive break chances better than any other team. The AlleyCats lead the league in defensive conversion rate for the second straight season, and have been turning up the pressure over the last month. Indy is averaging over 10 blocks per game during their current stretch after earning just 11 takeaways total in their two losses.
9. Austin Sol (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-20 vs Carolina
Evan Swiatek and Duncan Fitzgerald are making the Sol can’t-miss TV on a weekly basis for the amount of jaw-dropping plays they’re attempting. But with a league-average offensive conversion rate, and an 0-3 record against playoff rivals Atlanta and Carolina so far in 2023, Austin isn’t shining quite as brightly as the team that finished the 2022 season. The Sol have three straight games with 20 or more turnovers, and four in their first eight matchups after having just one such performance all of last season.
8. Minnesota Wind Chill (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 18-17 vs Madison
It wasn’t pretty, but the Wind Chill gutted out the tough home win in Week 7 against Madison and now have a victory against all five Central Division foes midway through their schedule. Add in the fact Minnesota accomplished much of it with Abe Coffin and a host of other starters sidelined with injuries, and this Wind Chill team is displaying a level of resiliency that reflects their goal to make their first Championship Weekend appearance. Longtime defender turned offensive hybrid Jordan Taylor has just two total turnovers in his last four starts, and already has career highs in assists, completions, and throwing yards in his seventh pro season.
7. Oakland Spiders (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 21-17 vs San Diego
For as interesting as the retooled Spiders offense looked heading into this season, I don’t think anybody had them pegged as the fourth most efficient O-line in the league after the first seven weeks, and ahead of teams like Colorado, DC, and New York. Captain Evan Magsig is blossoming into an all-around star in his third season and has back-to-back games with pivotal second half blocks. Is Keenan Laurence an MVP candidate? The fourth-year striker is one of just three players along with Khalif El-Salaam and Joe White to average at least six scores and 400 total yards of offense per game while also completing at least 94 percent of their throws.
6. Atlanta Hustle (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-17 at New York
The Hustle are leading the league in turnover rate at the midway point of the regular season, committing just under 14 mistakes per game. Christian Olsen hasn’t thrown a turnover in four of his past five starts and is first in completion rate (98.14 percent) among 35 throwers with 200 or more completions this season. But even with their precise play and first place position in the South standings, Atlanta has a little bit of a sour taste after losing by six and three goal margins in their last two matchups against playoff teams.
5. DC Breeze (+1)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 vs Carolina
Following a week of rest, DC’s top-five defense will host a Montreal offense going through a historically bad scoring drought in Week 8. Jasper Tom is set to return to the lineup after missing action against the Flyers, and is currently leading the team in takeaways per game, which is especially impressive given Tom’s backfield coverage duties; it would be like a defensive tackle leading an NFL team in sacks. Alexandre Fall, AJ Merriman, and Moussa Dia are all weapons on the counter, and have a combined 21 scores this season.
4. Carolina Flyers (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 22-20 at Austin
The Flyers scored 49 goals and turned the disc over just 33 times in their two Texas road wins, and now move above Austin and just a half game back of Atlanta in the South Division standings. In five starts coming into Week 7, Alex Davis had seven goals and 522 receiving yards before exploding for 11 goals and 698 receiving yards against Dallas and Austin, showcasing the separation speed and instincts that made him a 50-goal scorer in 2022. Jacob Fairfax and Anders Juengst have 70 combined scores this season, and are working in tandem to stretch defenses to their limits. Fairfax continues to punish anyone who dares to enter his airspace, and Juengst has developed a scoober throw he uses like a scalpel in the red zone to add to his already dangerous ground game.
3. Colorado Summit (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 19-18 vs Salt Lake
Even with a season-low five blocks and a lackluster fourth quarter that saw them lose the lead at home to their closest rivals, it took a clock-killing final possession for Salt Lake to put down the Summit and end their undefeated season. The Summit began their Week 7 game experimenting with Jonathan Nethercutt on defense and Cody Spicer on offense, but switched both players back to their respective roles in the second half against Salt Lake in order to stabilize rotations. Quinn Finer and Alex Atkins had just one turnover combined compared to 10 scores and nearly 1,000 yards of offense, and the Summit defense held an elite Shred offense to a season-low 40 percent conversion rate on their O-line possessions last Friday. But for the third time in six games, the Summit were held to just 18 goals; Colorado scored less than 20 goals exactly twice last season, in their first ever game as a franchise, and in their loss to Chicago in the AUDL semifinals. Summit can bounce back immediately this Friday in the rematch in Salt Lake.
2. Salt Lake Shred (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 19-18 at Colorado
The Shred went to Colorado and played the most complete game of their franchise’s short tenure, going 9-for-9 on break opportunities and 13-for-13 in the red zone while committing just 13 total turnovers to get their first-ever win against the Summit. Jacob Miller is one of the best high-volume decision makers in the league, and had his second 400-plus passing yard performance in his last four starts. Rookie McKay Yorgason and teenager Will Selfridge have combined for 37 scores, 311 completions, and over 3,200 total yards compared to just nine throwaways in 2023, and have been nitro boosters for an already explosive offensive attack. And after losing an entire starting rotation of defensive playmakers during the offseason, Head Coach Bryce Merrill has wired this year’s rotation to be even hungrier, going from third to second in break scores per game with a more finely calibrated counterattack.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-17 vs Atlanta
In their first six games of the season, the Empire only completed 24 total hucks at an abysmal 48 percent rate. But New York found the range on Saturday against the Hustle and completed 12-of-16 from deep, with Ryan Osgar and Jeff Babbitt connecting on a handful of bombs. The Empire have now held opponents under 20 goals in 14 straight games during their 22-game overall winning streak, and are limiting teams to an all-time low of just 12 scores per game in 2023; Madison currently holds the record for a single season set in 2014 when they allowed 15.6 goals per game. Ryan Drost and Mike Drost have a combined 15 takeaways this season, and John Randolph has at least one block in each of his five starts, guarding multiple positions with his relentless combo of speed and strength in coverage.
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