Power Rankings: Week 8

June 21, 2023
By Adam Ruffner

24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Record: 0-5
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 at Indianapolis

The 12 turnovers the Mechanix had in Week 8 against Indy is their lowest in a game since 2019, and the offense unmistakably looks as good as it ever has with Jake Kenniv, Nicholas Betsch, and rookie Carson Chamberlain carving out significant roles. But there was something about their final possession against the AlleyCats—down just two goals with nearly two full minutes on the clock and with the disc, the Mechanix scored with just one second left, denying themselves a chance at the tie and possible overtime—that really encapsulated the futility of the whole 67-game losing streak. 

23. Dallas Legion (-)
Record: 0-6
Most recent result: Loss, 29-14 at Atlanta

No player in the AUDL is out-producing Jason Hustad on a per game basis in 2023. The third-year thrower is averaging 512 passing yards per start, and would become the first player* in league history to finish a season tossing more than 500 per game. The reward of a fully unleashed Hustad and his master carpenter hammers is nine huck completions in his last two games; the risk is a league-leading 5.5 throwaways per game. 

* Multiple games played

22. Montreal Royal (-)
Record: 0-7
Most recent result: Loss, 22-13 at Philadelphia

Montreal is one of just four teams—the same bottom four in these rankings—giving up nine or more break scores to opposing teams this season. The Royal O-line looks good for stretches, and Kevin Quinlan has the kind of arm talent to turn any receiver into a target anywhere on the field. But more often than not, the inexperienced offensive rotation will make a mistake and lag in transition, leading to defensive runs by opponents. 

21. Portland Nitro (-)
Record: 0-7
Most recent result: Loss, 21-15 at Chicago

Lefty Ian Sweeney had his second six-assist, 500-plus throwing yard performance in just five games this season, and the Nitro still failed to score 20 goals for the third straight game. Portland’s defense has now scored as many breaks in their last three outings (5) as they did in their one-goal loss to Oakland at home on May 19. 

20. Houston Havoc (-)
Record: 2-6
Most recent result: Loss, 18-15 vs Austin

No logo in the league better represents its team than the tornado symbol does for the Havoc, especially after Houston committed a season-high 36 turnovers and failed to score in the first quarter against the Sol in Week 8. Seven different Havoc players are averaging two or more throwaways per game, and only Dallas has a lower team completion rate this season. There is hustle to the Havoc—they’re one of just nine teams this season averaging more than 10 blocks per game—and they don’t give up many easy points. 

19. Madison Radicals (-3)
Record: 1-5
Most recent result: Loss, 24-19 vs Minnesota

Though Madison trailed from the outset of their Week 8 matchup with Minnesota, they were within two goals when the final quarter began before the Wind Chill closed things out in the fourth to plummet the Radicals further in the Central standings. The Radicals really are on the verge of failing to qualify for the playoffs for a fourth straight season, and after limiting mistakes in their first four games, Madison committed 46 turnovers in their two-game set against Minnesota. Anthony Gutowsky now has multiple goals in each of his last five games, and is third among all rookies with 21.

18. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-1)
Record: 3-4
Most recent result: Loss, 18-17 at Toronto

Since winning at the buzzer against Madison in their Week 1 home opener, Pittsburgh has four losses in their last five, with their sole win coming against the Mechanix. Interestingly enough, opponents have the second lowest D-line conversion rate against the Thunderbirds in 2023, with only New York’s offense being stingier than Pittsburgh. But that means a lot of unforced errors from the T-Birds offense and a plethora of break chances for foes. Four of Pittsburgh’s final five games come against Indy and Chicago, putting them in head-to-head competition for their possible playoff spot. 

17. Toronto Rush (+2)
Record: 3-4
Most recent result: Win, 18-17 vs Pittsburgh

The Rush offense had their second straight game with at least a 60 percent conversion rate, and Toronto stayed in the hunt for the third seed in the East with their buzzer-beater win against the Thunderbirds. One correlation for their recent smoothness on the attack has been rookie Griffin McKee, who caught the game winner in Week 8. McKee has nine scores and 330 receiving yards combined in his last two starts, and he shows a lot of pop while making plays in tight coverage.

16. San Diego Growlers (-)
Record: 2-5
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 (OT) vs Seattle

Since their win in Houston on May 19, the Growlers have lost four in a row, their longest losing streak since 2018. Travis Dunn leads the league in scores per game (8.2) and is second in total yards per game* (635), but is completing passes at his lowest rate since 2017 because of his gargantuan workload; Dunn set a new career high for completions (49) against Seattle, and had his third 400-plus receiving yard performance in five starts this season.  

* Among players with at least two games played

15. Seattle Cascades (+3)
Record: 2-7
Most recent result: Loss, 23-14 at Los Angeles

Seattle split their Week 8 SoCal road trip thanks in large part to Garrett Martin’s career night against the Growlers. Martin threw for career highs in assists (9), huck completions (5!), and passing yards (443), and tied a personal best in completions (37) that he set in Week 1. The 25-year-old has gone from a D-line spark plug to the league leader in assists and second in overall receiving yardage in just three short seasons. 

14. Chicago Union (-)
Record: 3-3
Most recent result: Win, 21-15 vs Portland

As the Union offense continues to find its rhythm, defenders Jake Steslicki and Benjamin Preiss have been two of the more valuable, unsung, and stabilizing offseason additions in the AUDL in 2023. Both are active in coverage, but where the two really activate is in break scenarios. Both players have 14 scores in five starts, and neither has attempted a huck this season, opting instead for small-ball possessions and dizzying give-and-go patterns. Chicago is second to last in blocks per game this season, but they are still averaging 6.5 break scores per game thanks to the discipline of Steslicki and Preiss on the counter. 

13. Boston Glory (-)
Record: 4-3
Most recent result: Loss, 25-16 at New York

It didn’t take long for the Empire defensive pressure to unsettle Boston’s offense, as early mistakes led to a 13-6 halftime deficit in the eventual nine-goal road loss. Orion Cable rallied for a big second half, and receiver Ray Tetreault has really figured out how to use his speed to establish his dual role as a distributor. But with three losses in their last four games, and their next four matchups against potential playoff competition in DC (twice), Philly, and Toronto, Boston’s season is on the line in the next three weeks. 

12. Los Angeles Aviators (-)
Record: 5-3
Most recent result: Win, 23-14 vs Seattle

The Aviators offense is converting on 70 percent of their offensive possessions over the last three games, and LA has won four in a row to move into a virtual tie for second in the West Division. Pawel Janas and Sean McDougall are the best one-two offensive duo East of New York, commanding attention and allowing the continued evolution of Brandon Van Deusen as a mobile playmaker. Van Deusen was a throwing turret against the Cascades the last two games, completing 106 throws for 840 passing yards and setting the table for all kinds of action, evidenced by his 11 combined hockey assists. 

11. Indianapolis AlleyCats (-1)
Record: 5-2
Most recent result: Win, 20-19 vs Detroit

The AlleyCats were averaging nine break scores per game in their four games prior to their Week 8 matchup with Detroit. But something about the new Mechanix offensive system and calm conditions indoors allowed Indy to muster just six blocks and five break scores in their one-goal squeaker to extend their winning streak to five games. In his 18 games since returning to the team in 2022, Keegan North has 108 scores and is averaging 440 yards of offense per start as one of the most underrated disc movers in the league. 

10. Philadelphia Phoenix (+1)
Record: 4-4
Most recent result: Win, 22-13 vs Montreal

During their current four-game winning streak, the Phoenix are averaging nearly the same number of huck completions (12) as turnovers (15), and have really found the razor’s edge balance between poise and power. And the flat-mark, straight up Philly defense is giving opponents fits in one-on-one matchups. The Phoenix D-line is averaging 8.8 breaks per game during the win streak, and are coming off the most break scores in a game since 2018. Max Trifillis is second in the league in blocks with 14, while Eric Witmer and Paul Owens also have double-digit takeaways and have been key pieces in running the counterattack. 

9. Austin Sol (-)
Record: 6-3
Most recent result: Win, 18-15 at Houston

The Sol officially had the ugliest win of the season in their 33-turnover punchdrunk victory in Houston. It took over half of the first quarter for either team to score, with the Sol mercifully ending the goal drought and my personal existential questions about what even is this sport, anyways. But even with a 5-0 first quarter against the expansion Havoc, the Sol couldn’t quite close out their interstate rivals, and endured a series of comeback attempts from the home team. In six of Austin’s nine games, the defense has had a higher conversion rate than the Sol offense. 

8. Colorado Summit (-5)
Record: 5-3
Most recent result: Loss, 24-23 at Oakland

In the course of eight days the Summit surpassed their loss total from the first season and a half of play as a franchise. Each of their defeats have been by just a single goal to resurgent teams. The drop feels more precipitous than it should because of how Colorado suddenly finds itself at eye-level in the standings with Oakland and LA. But after some early season misfiring, the Summit have re-established their huck game and completed 39-of-54 (72 percent) of their deep attempts in their last four games, and with Jonathan Nethercutt absent for last weekend’s road trip to boot. Alex Atkins assumed the QB1 role and was a force in both games. He played 54 points and completed 135 throws (including six hucks) for 947 throwing yards in the two losses.

7. Minnesota Wind Chill (+1)
Record: 6-1
Most recent result: Win, 24-19 at Madison

No team has weaponized the new pulling rules like this Wind Chill defense. Sam Berglund and Cameron Lacy repeatedly pinned the Madison offense on the back line to start their drives, allowing Minnesota defenders to blitz the length of the field and generate pressure on the first few throws of each possession. The result was a season-high 12 break scores on 15 opportunities, with Bret Bergmeier and Dylan DeClerck looking dominant at times in transition. Heading into the season, the Wind Chill looked like a considerable underdog in their Week 9 showdown with the Summit in Colorado. But with the way their defense can pressure and throw multiple coverages—not to mention their underrated size and versatility—Minnesota suddenly looks like a formidable foe for a reeling Summit squad. 

6. Oakland Spiders (+1)
Record: 5-3
Most recent result: Win, 24-23 vs Colorado

Even without offensive leaders Mac Hecht and Chris Lung in the lineup, the Spiders got their biggest win as a franchise since their 2015 title and announced themselves fully as West Division contenders. Walker Frankenberg was the motor, Evan Magsig was the anchor, Keenan Laurence was the finisher, but it was 19-year-old rookie Dexter Clyburn who was the difference maker. Laurence mentioned earlier this week that before the team’s game-winning drive, Clyburn stepped onto the line and called the final play for the win in full confidence. Before his supernova performance in Week 8 where he finished with seven assists, 420 throwing yards, and 45 completions—including the game winner to Laurence—Clyburn’s previous highs were two, 226, and 20, respectively. 

5. Atlanta Hustle (+1)
Record: 6-2
Most recent result: Win, 29-14 vs Dallas

There have been few better fits than putting Justin Burnett in the offside wing position in Atlanta’s zone defense scheme, as the second-year breakout defender notched a career-high six blocks—all in one half—against Dallas in Week 8 by taking away entire continents in the middle of the field. Burnett’s freakish lateral speed and first step are only eclipsed by his mental intuition and play reading; Burnett isn’t just intuiting the opposing offense’s routes, he’s feinting coverages and baiting throws to otherwise open receivers. Brett Hulsmeyer is now one of just three players with at least 10 assists, 10 goals, and 10 blocks this season, and he has back-to-back games with at least 30 completions for the first time in his career. 

4. DC Breeze (+1)
Record: 4-2
Most recent result: Win, 23-14 vs Montreal

The final score may show a nine-goal DC win, but it took an 8-1 closeout in the fourth for the Breeze to separate from a Royal team that was lingering through the first three quarters. Thomas Edmonds has 12 scores, 90 completions, and zero turnovers in his last three starts, and ignited the D-line’s break train with a big block to start the final frame last Friday. He isn’t the only new Breeze player making waves in his first season with the team: Benjamin Oort is averaging a team-high 5.8 scores per game in his four starts, giving DC’s explosive offense another versatile playmaker with great hands and instincts. 

3. Carolina Flyers (+1)
Record: 6-3
Most recent result: Win, 22-20 at Austin

Winners of six of their last seven games, the Flyers remain one of the toughest teams to score breaks against. Carolina ranked second last season in hold rate and are fourth in 2023, with offensive starters Jacob Fairfax, Sol Yanuck, Elijah Long, Anders Juengst, Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, Alex Davis, and Trevor Lynch all good-to-excellent in coverage off of a turn. Opponents are averaging just over four breaks per game off the Flyers O-line, over two scores fewer than the Carolina defense averages per game (6.4 breaks). Lynch has fully taken over the “shooter” spot in the Flyers throwing lineup, completing a team-high 13 hucks this season at a blistering 81.2 percent rate; Lynch has more huck completions (5) than throwaways (4) in his last three starts, and is averaging over 375 total yards per game in 2023.  

2. Salt Lake Shred (-)
Record: 8-0
Most recent result: Win, 20-19 vs Colorado

After the Shred defense took care of business in Colorado in Week 7, the Salt Lake O-line converted an uber impressive 16-of-22 possessions (76 percent) and the team committed a franchise-low eight turnovers in their season sweep against the Summit last Friday. All of the top eight players in the Shred’s offensive rotation have a completion rating above 94.7 percent; Jacob Miller now has five starts this season without a throwaway, ranks 15th in most completions this season (283), and has the highest pass completion rate among the top 100 throwers* in the league this season. The Shred are firing on all cylinders on both sides of the disc—opponents haven’t scored 20 in a game against Salt Lake in the past month—which is building towards an incredible matchup with New York in a few weeks.

*Total completions

1. New York Empire (-)
Record: 8-0
Most recent result: Win, 25-16 vs Boston

The Empire rank number one in the AUDL in blocks per game (12.5), and have generated 10 or more takeaways in seven of their eight games this season. The D-line is getting contributions from everywhere, and is exemplified in the play of second-year hybrid Oliver Chartock. The younger brother of teammate Elliott Chartock has come into his own this season as a two-way threat, and tied a career high with three blocks against Boston. Oliver is playing even larger than his 6’3” frame would suggest, and he has excellent footspeed for his size which allows him to be dangerous in the counterattack as both a thrower and receiver. With the New York offense holding on a league-leading 75 percent of their total points this season, and the Empire defense breaking opponents at a 37 percent clip, the reigning champs are pulling opponents apart at the seams on both lines. 

Previous weeks:

Follow Adam Ruffner on Twitter