June 28, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-12 vs Chicago
Upcoming matchup: June 30 at Pittsburgh
Like the second half in their game against the Union last Friday, there are stretches where the 2023 Mechanix look feisty. Rookie receivers Carson Chamberlain and Daniel Robinson continue to give Detroit a burst downfield, and Jake Kenniv has transformed from a lanky pass catcher into an all-around offensive leader. But 51 turnovers in their two Week 9 games—and the league’s lowest D-line conversion rate—has marched the losing streak all the way to 69 games.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-12 vs Atlanta
Upcoming matchup: July 1 at Austin
For just the second time in their franchise’s history, the Legion failed to tally a break score in their Week 9 loss. Dallas’ five blocks set a season low, and no D-line starter has more than four takeaways on the season. Alec Wilson Holliday continues his hot streak on offense with his fifth straight multi-goal game. Wilson Holliday is now averaging 267 receiving yards per game in 2023, good for 22nd in the AUDL.
22. Montreal Royal (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 26-19 at Toronto
Upcoming matchup: July 2 vs Philadelphia
Rookie Phillipe Le Bourdais has exploded this month as the Royal’s clear WR1. Le Bourdais leads the team with 19 goals, including seven last Sunday in Toronto to go along with a new career high 358 receiving yards. His explosiveness in the air offsets whatever height disadvantage Le Bourdais may have on the ground, and he’s shown a fierceness the winless Royal have lacked for much of their 2023 campaign. Montreal has yet to score 20 goals in a game this season, and are currently last in the league in scoring (14.8 goals per game) by over a goal per game.
21. Portland Nitro (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-15 at Chicago
Upcoming matchup: June 30 vs Colorado
The Nitro are undergoing a midseason mutation of their offensive lineup for the second straight season, but Jake Johnson has been a much needed stabilizer and mobile passer. The 30-year-old Air Force grad is completing passes at a nearly six percent higher clip this season than in 2022, and despite lacking some assist numbers has clearly been the team’s leading thrower. Johnson is averaging 37 completions and 247 throwing yards per game, and has nearly 80 more total completions than the second highest member of the Nitro.
20. Houston Havoc (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-14 vs Atlanta
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Austin
Captain Brendan Adams recorded the first Callahan in franchise history, and simultaneously brought the Havoc to within three goals of Atlanta with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter last Friday. But that was something like a last gasp, as the Hustle closed out the game on a 9-3 over the next 15 minutes of game clock. Houston is now averaging just 15 goals per game in their seven games against non-Dallas opponents.
19. Madison Radicals (-3)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-22 vs Indianapolis
Upcoming matchup: July 1 at Indianapolis
Despite committing a season-low 14 turnovers, the Radicals’ Week 9 loss to Indy effectively eliminated Madison from the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Nevermind the backbreaking amount of one-goal losses: What’s been absolutely surreal is the Radicals’ complete lack of magic at home. The Radicals are 2-7 in their last nine games at Breese Stevens Field, including back-to-back defeats to an AlleyCats team that couldn’t win in Madison from 2013 through 2018.
18. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-17 at Toronto
Upcoming matchup: June 30 vs Detroit
Even in the Week 8 loss, Max Sheppard had one of his best performances as a pro in a career packed with NASA stat numbers. The nine assists and 453 throwing yards were both the second highest single-game totals in his career, and the 42 completions tied for the fifth most in his 81 career games. The Thunderbirds are two games back of Chicago for the third and final playoff spot in the Central, with both of their matchups against the Union still on the schedule.
17. San Diego Growlers (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-18 at Los Angeles
Upcoming matchup: July 1 vs Salt Lake (Game Of The Week)
The Growlers sixth loss of the season might’ve spelled doom for their playoff hopes in 2023, and likely snapped a four-season postseason streak for the franchise. But between injuries, roster overhauling, and a host of young players inserted into starting roles, there’s still been a lot of upside for San Diego this season. Max Gibson is 21 yards shy of Walker Frankenberg for the most total yards this year by a rookie despite playing in two fewer games, and is second among rookies in scores per game (5.5).
16. Seattle Cascades (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-14 at Los Angeles
Upcoming matchup: July 1 vs Colorado
For as much as Garrett Martin has leveled up as a thrower this year in Seattle, second year sensation Zeppelin Raunig has become a true WR1 in the West. The 2022 All-Star is currently fifth in total receiving yards (2468), 18th in total scores (39), and is averaging almost 23 yards per touch compared to just two total throwaways on the season. As a rookie Raunig averaged 203 receiving yards per game, which has beefed up to 309 in 2023.
15. Toronto Rush (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 26-19 vs Montreal
Upcoming matchup: July 1 vs Boston
The young playmaking Rush offense continues to excel on the fastbreak and turn games into track meets. Ty Barbieri is fifth in the AUDL with 52 total scores, and his range as a thrower and receiver makes him dangerous from any spot on the field. But what really has to be exciting was a Rush defense without star Phil Turner in the lineup scoring their most breaks as a team since 2019. If the O-line can continue to keep their foot on the accelerator, and the D-line plays anywhere approaching league-average level, Toronto could pick up considerable momentum in the next few weeks.
14. Chicago Union (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-12 at Detroit
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Pittsburgh
Similar to the Austin Sol, Chicago’s D-line conversion rate has now exceeded their O-line in five of their eight games this season. In the Union’s two-game set against Detroit in Week 9, the defense converted 16 break scores and held the Mechanix to just 32 combined points. And though he didn’t start until June of this season, 2022 All Rookie member Asher Lantz is having an even more impactful sophomore season. In just five games he already has eight blocks, and his 6’4” presence has added a much needed canopy to the back end of Chicago’s defensive coverages.
13. Boston Glory (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-16 vs DC
Upcoming matchup: July 1 at Toronto
With their loss to the Breeze in Week 9, Boston is now 0-4 in 2023—and 0-15 in the last three seasons—against teams with winning records. Opponents are averaging over 10 blocks per game this season against the Glory, and their 25 turnovers against DC was their fifth most of the last three seasons. Rookie Simon Carapella has 13 goals and 1,145 receiving yards in his last four starts, and has been one of the best red zone attackers in the East this year.
12. Minnesota Wind Chill (-5)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-15 at Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 7 at Madison
A season high in turnovers (25) coupled with season lows in virtually every other team category sealed the Wind Chill’s fate in Colorado. It was a complete turnaround from the team that competed in Madison the weekend prior, and it’s the kind of loss that leaves the Central Division’s first place team looking vulnerable to their contenders heading into the final stretch of the regular season calendar. Bryan Vohnoutka was one of the lone bright spots in the loss and continues to play the most mistake-free ultimate of his lauded career.
11. Austin Sol (-3)
Most recent result: Win, 18-15 at Houston
Upcoming matchup: July 1 vs Dallas
The Sol are leading the league in break scores per game in 2023 and could become just the second team since 2019 to average more than nine per contest for a full season. Four different Austin defensive starters already have 10 or more assists this season, with Elliott Moore and Joey Wylie ranking second and third among the top 60 defensive starters* in scoring, trailing only Cody Spicer. Wylie now has double-digit blocks in each of his first three pro seasons, and the 24-year-old is completing a career-high 93.9 percent of his throws this year.
* Total defensive points played in 2023
10. Los Angeles Aviators (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 22-18 vs San Diego
Upcoming matchup: June 30 vs Salt Lake
LA needs to start piping in “Jaws” music any time Lukas Ambrose is lurking on a defensive rotation, as the league leader in blocks has been relentless throughout his rookie season. And while virtually all 18 of his blocks have been highlight-quality layouts, none was more impressive than his fourth quarter takeaway last Saturday. With LA protecting a two-goal lead, Ambrose peeled off his matchup and essentially teleported seven yards to get his second takeaway of the game. LA is averaging two more takeaways per game this season than in 2022—going from 6.92 (23rd out of 24 teams) to 9.67 (13th)—which is pretty directly attributable to Ambrose’s high-flying presence.
9. Philadelphia Phoenix (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 22-13 vs Montreal
Upcoming matchup: July 2 at Montreal
Rookie thrower Calvin Trisolini has really sharpened his play over the last month of play, and adds another live arm to an already league-best deep passing attack. Since committing 10 throwaways and two drops in his first three starts, Trisolini has just eight total turnovers in his last five appearances. Over that same stretch Trisolini is averaging 38 completions and 285 passing yards per game, and has accumulated 14 assists and 9 huck completions. With Trisolini emerging as a pass-first playmaker in the backfield, it gives more freedom for James Pollard and Sean Mott to attack downfield as dual threat receivers.
8. Indianapolis AlleyCats (+3)
Most recent result: Win, 23-22 at Madison
Upcoming matchup: July 1 vs Madison
The AlleyCats are playing with as much confidence on both sides of the disc as any team in the league during their six-game winning streak. Only Salt Lake, Colorado, and Indy have both of their lines converting in the league’s top six teams in 2023, and the ‘Cats lead the league in defensive conversion rate for a second straight season. Keegan North has been devilishly good in his last two starts, throwing for 13 assists and 666 passing yards combined against Detroit and Madison. Rookie teenager William Wettengel had his fifth multi-block game in eight games, and is now tied for third overall in the AUDL in takeaways (16).
7. Colorado Summit (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 25-15 vs Minnesota
Upcoming matchup: June 30 at Portland, July 1 at Seattle
Cliche as it sounds, teams are defined by how they respond to adversity, and Colorado’s resounding 10-goal win at home against a good Minnesota team was definitive proof of this Summit team’s resolve. And after registering more blocks in Week 9 (13) than in their prior two games combined (12), it looks like the Summit defense is pulling out of their midseason slump and generating the kind of pressure they are used to. Cody Spicer is a Predator-level hunter who can never be fooled twice, and is disruptive at all three levels (backfield, midfield, deep) in coverage. He’s also, somehow, become even more dangerous on the counterattack as a thrower, and is one of the most reliable decision makers in the league with the disc in his hands.
6. Oakland Spiders (-)
Most recent result: Win, 24-23 vs Colorado
Upcoming matchup: July 8 vs Portland
Only LA’s Janas-McDougall (110 scores) and Seattle’s Martin-Raunig (106) combinations have more combined scores this season than Keenan Laurence and Walker Frankenberg (91), and Oakland’s pair of producers has half as many turnovers as either of the other duos. Laurence has been one of the most explosive O-line players in the league this season, averaging almost 24 yards per touch while having just six total throwaways on the season. Oakland in general has made limiting turnovers a priority during the last month of play, and have four performances with 17 or fewer mistakes in their last six games.
5. Atlanta Hustle (-)
Most recent result: Win, 23-12 at Dallas
Upcoming matchup: July 15 at Carolina
The Hustle defense has been feeding in the team’s recent wins. Atlanta has posted an average margin of victory of 10 goals in their last five wins, and the D-line is averaging 11 breaks per game over that stretch while limiting opponents to an anemic 13.2 goals per game. Justin Burnett now has 14 blocks in his last four starts, and is second in the league in total takeaways (17). The offense has also kept its rhythm despite the long sequences of defensive break runs. The twin throwing hydras of Austin Taylor and Bobby Ley now have 38 combined huck completions in 10 games, the most of any two teammates this season. Taylor is completing a career-best 95.3 percent of his throws, and Ley has his best mark since 2019.
4. DC Breeze (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-16 at Boston
Upcoming matchup: June 30 at New York
Nobody has been more lethal against the Empire in recent meetings for the Breeze than Christian Boxley. In his last four starts against the reigning champs, Boxley is averaging 5.3 scores, 26 completions, and 337 total yards, and has committed an astonishingly low three total turnovers. Boxley is maybe the best in the business right now at creating separation from his defender, and his pacing and precision with the disc is one of the most effective forces against New York’s formidable defense. Thomas Edmonds hasn’t had a turnover in his last five starts, and is now producing one jaw-dropping defensive highlight per week to go along with his offensive playmaking.
3. Carolina Flyers (-)
Most recent result: Win, 22-20 at Austin
Upcoming matchup: July 15 vs Atlanta
The Flyers have just three games remaining in their regular season schedule. And with none until July 15, keeping their edge heading into the playoffs will be key for a Carolina team looking to return to Championship Weekend for the third straight season. The Flyers already have more 20-plus turnover games this season (3) than the last two seasons combined (1), and could use this multi-week bye to sharpen rotations. But for as much variance as there has been elsewhere for the Flyers, Matt Gouchoe-Hanas remains perhaps the most reliable thrower when he starts on offense. In his three pro seasons, Gouchoe-Hanas has notched completion rates of 98.48 percent, 98.62 percent, and 98.13 percent this year.
2. Salt Lake Shred (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-19 vs Colorado
Upcoming matchup: June 30 at Los Angeles (Free on YouTube), July 1 at San Diego (Game Of The Week)
With the rest of the West saddled with a minimum of three losses, a win against either of the Shred’s Week 10 opponents would clinch their second straight playoff appearance; a win in LA would all but secure the Shred as regular season divisional champs; a weekend sweep would formally do it. After finishing as the MVP runner-up a season ago, Jordan Kerr has continued to elevate his game. In just eight games so far this season, Kerr has more than doubled his block total (8) from a year ago (3), and is averaging 3.25 goals per game in 2023 compared to just 2.2 in 2022. The Shred have started wisely using Kerr on end-of-quarter defensive rotations, and his height and offseason strength training have yielded a series of shutdowns on pass attempts into the end zone.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 25-16 vs Boston
Upcoming matchup: June 30 vs DC
For all the playmaking and clutch execution from the Empire in their epic battles against the Breeze, what really has driven their success is an all-encompassing four quarter focus on possession. In their four matchups since the beginning of the 2022 season—all Empire wins—New York is averaging just 10.5 turnovers per game against DC while converting on 77 percent of their holds; the Shred lead the league with a 73 percent hold rate this season. Jack Williams is seemingly unshakable as a distributor no matter what coverages and matchups DC throws at him; Williams is averaging 40 completions and 286 passing yards in his last four starts against the Breeze. And Jeff Babbitt fully unleashed his 2023 MVP candidacy in the first meeting this season back in Week 3 with his front-cone dominance.
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