June 7, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-15 vs Indianapolis
Before arriving in Detroit this year, Nicholas Betsch played just 54 points and notched just 14 completions in five appearances over two seasons with Indy. But as a member of the Mechanix, Betsch has been a central motor for a developing offensive attack. In Week 6 against his former team, Betsch completed 24-of-25 throws for a career high 325 throwing yards.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-19 at Houston
Alec Wilson Holliday now has 16 scores and 657 receiving yards in his last two starts, and the Dallas offense had their most successful outing of the season in Houston in Week 6. But after falling to the Havoc again, the Legion now have 15 losses in their last 16 games going back to the beginning of last season. There is possible help on the horizon as Kevin Richardson works back from injury that delayed his 2023 debut until June.
22. Montreal Royal (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 16-10 vs New York
Montreal has managed just 37 goals in three home games this season. The 10 goals they scored in Week 6 ranks as the second lowest output for the franchise since their founding in 2014. Rookie Dylan Lacombe-Burgoyne is coming along nicely as mobile passing option and shot taker alongside Kevin Quinlan and first year Royal handler Kayle Campbell.
21. Portland Nitro (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 27-18 vs Seattle
The Nitro failed to score 20 goals for the third time this season and now remain as one of just four remaining winless teams in 2023. Opponents are completing a league-high 94.9 percent of their throws against the Nitro, and Portland tied a franchise-low with four blocks against Seattle. Bright side: Jon Snyder is super entertaining anywhere he lines up, and the offense has converted on 50 percent or better of their offensive possessions in four of their five games.
20. Houston Havoc (-)
Most recent result: Win, 21-19 vs Dallas
The Havoc completed a season-high 94 percent of their throws in their second win against Dallas in as many meetings. Captain Ben Lewis continues to exude hustle and selflessness, as he’s taken on a larger role as a distributor than ever before. He has back-to-back games with 20-plus completions for the first time in his seven-year AUDL career, and already has career highs for a season in assists (12) and completions (113) through just seven starts in 2023.
19. Toronto Rush (-2)
Most recent result: Win, 15-12 at Montreal
There’s no question about Ty Barbieri’s production and playmaking ability, as evidenced by his game-clinching layout-to-huck assist in the Rush’s Week 5 win. But he’s also one of seven Toronto players averaging at least two turnovers per game. The Rush have just two games remaining against teams with winning records in their last seven matchups of 2023, and a slight reduction in turnovers could make or break Toronto’s favorable playoff schedule.
18. Seattle Cascades (+4)
Most recent result: Win, 27-18 at Portland
The Cascades picked up their first road win since 2019 behind another mega game from Khalif El-Salaam and Garrett Martin. The two have been nothing short of stars since returning to Seattle this season, with Martin leading the league in assists through six weeks, and El-Salaam providing an unsolvable matchup for the opposition on every lineup he plays. With El-Salaam and Martin playing at such high levels, breakout receivers Jack Brown and Zeppelin Raunig continue to own single coverage.
17. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-17 at Madison
The Thunderbirds continued their offensive woes in Madison as they extended their losing streak to three games. Pittsburgh is now averaging just three goals in the first quarter during their skid, and have 69 total turnovers in their last three matchups, including 11 drops. Other than Minnesota, every Central team has at least two losses, so the T-Birds are still in the thick of the playoff picture. But with Chicago and Madison looking like they will improve as the season wears on, Pittsburgh will have to pull out of this nosedive soon.
16. Madison Radicals (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 22-17 vs Pittsburgh
With vets Sterling Knoche and Pat Shriwise back in the lineup, the Radicals had a visible confidence boost at Breese Stevens on Sunday, jumping out to a 14-6 halftime lead and cruising to a five-goal win. As this team gets healthier and rounds out their rotations, their close-but-no-cigar finishes could soon turn into valuable learning opportunities for a young team that is still improving week to week. The defensive intensity that was missing the first few weeks has returned in force, and Henry Goldenberg is emerging as a true quarterback for the offense. Goldenberg had a season-high 307 throwing yards against Pittsburgh, and has reduced his throwaway totals in each of his first four games of the season while completing a team-high 46 throws per game.
15. San Diego Growlers (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-21 vs Los Angeles
Despite collecting 11 scores and running rampant for 467 receiving yards in Week 6, Travis Dunn committed a completely uncharacteristic five turnovers against LA, his most since 2018. But after having some questions about receiver depth entering the season, the Growlers cutting core of Dunn, Max Gibson, Steven Milardovich, and Casey Wu offer a lot of options and styles for this team. Dunn and Gibson are able to lead the fastbreak in the open field owing to their size and physicality, while Wu is an excellent side-to-side finisher for San Diego.
14. Los Angeles Aviators (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 22-21 at San Diego
After generating just four break scores and 12 takeaways in two road games in Week 4, the Aviators defense was emphatic in their Week 6 turnaround. LA converted six breaks and earned a whopping 16 blocks against the Growlers, the most in a game since 2021 for the Aviators. Lukas Ambrose is the most disruptive defender in the league this season, and seemingly all of his 11 blocks have come on gigantic layout attempts, thwarting numerous passes in the end zone. And despite a few mistakes, Sean McDougall locked in during the fourth quarter and became the closer LA will need for a playoff push.
13. Chicago Union (-3)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-18 at Minnesota
The Union defense rallied the team on the road in the second half, but couldn’t help overcome a series of first quarter mistakes for an offense that still lacks any discernible rhythm. Chicago’s D-line is first overall in the AUDL in defensive conversion efficiency, while the offense is 18th in scoring efficiency. The main culprit has been an anemic deep attack. The Union rank dead last in huck completion rate at 42 percent, a mark that would set a new all-time low for a season since huck stats started getting tracked in 2021.
12. Indianapolis AlleyCats (-)
Most recent result: Win, 21-15 at Detroit
The ‘Cats quietly picked up their third straight win with their win in Detroit, and sit just a game back of Minnesota for first place in the Central Division. It was nearly a month in between turnovers for Travis Carpenter, who committed his first throwaway since May 6. Carpenter is averaging team highs in scores (5) and completions (44) per game, and has just four turnovers in five starts since missing all of the 2022 season.
11. Philadelphia Phoenix (+3)
Most recent result: Win, 20-17 vs Carolina
The Phoenix finally got the big win they’ve been searching for against the Flyers in Week 6, and most impressively it was by using their own inimitable Philly style. The offense got their receivers into single coverage and continually pressured Carolina with timely deep shots to their big targets, connecting on 12-of-18 hucks and imposing their will on important drives. Defensively, the Phoenix applied pressure for all four quarters and readily seized on the Flyers' mistakes, and closed out the game in the fourth quarter on a break run that was ignited by rookie Andres Rodriguez’s flying block on the goal line. It was unmistakably a team win—Phoenix committed a season-low 15 turnovers—which is what makes the Philly such a formidable contender going into the back half of their schedule.
10. Boston Glory (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 8-5 vs New York
The 2023 season continues to be one defined by weather and elements for Boston, as their much anticipated battle with New York last Friday night was rained on and shortened to a single half. The unfulfilling outcome feels representative of nothing for either team, but nevertheless the Glory now sit with a single mark in the loss column and a tough matchup this Friday with Atlanta. The Hustle defeated the Glory in Boston in the lone meeting between these two franchises back in 2021, giving the home team a little added motivation.
9. Minnesota Wind Chill (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 20-18 vs Chicago
With projected starting throwers Josh Klane, Jason Tschida, William Brandt, and Abe Coffin all sidelined for the Wind Chill’s big Week 6 revenge matchup with Chicago, Minnesota got tremendous fill-in performances from Tristan Van de Moortele and Tyler Thomegreene to stabilize the offensive attack and earn the home win. The Shred, Summit, and Wind Chill are the only three teams to average eight or more break scores per game in each of the past two seasons, and the D-line continues to be Minnesota’s defining identity. 26-year-old Bret Bergmeier is having a breakout season in his third season with the team, with headier reads in coverage as a defender and more energy as an attacker on counter possessions.
8. Oakland Spiders (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 27-22 at Colorado
The Spiders may have just completed the most impressive 0-2 weekend in the league’s history after facing brutal back-to-back games in Salt Lake and Colorado. The Shred and Summit are a combined 19-1 at home against West Division foes, with the lone loss coming when Colorado beat the Shred in Salt Lake in Week 7 last season. The Spiders had second half leads in both of their Week 6 matchups before eventually fading down the stretch, and Mac Hecht, Keenan Laurence, Chris Lung, and Walker Frankenberg all put the West officially on notice with their playmaking. After not playing a single offensive point in his lone AUDL start, teenage rookie Raekwon Adkins was flexed into a starting receiving role and flourished, finishing the two-game road trip with eight goals, 401 receiving yards, and multiple statement plays.
7. Austin Sol (-)
Most recent result: Win, 23-19 vs Houston
Through the first 39 days of the 2023 season, Evan Swiatek leads the league in total receiving yards (2,219), is tied for the lead in goals (25), and is fifth in receiving yards per game (317). He caught a passing comet last Friday, and has made frankly hellacious layout attempts in each of his past several starts. Duncan Fitzgerald could be the leading “Most Improved” candidate as he continues to shine in the backfield alongside Jake Radack. Fitzgerald is averaging three assists, 41 completions, and over 300 throwing yards for the Sol this season, and now has four games with 40-plus completions in 2023 after never completing more than 22 throws in a game in his previous 20 career pro games.
6. DC Breeze (-3)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 vs Carolina
With expert handler defenders Jasper Tom and David Cranston unavailable in Week 6, the DC defense struggled to contain the throwing backfield for the Flyers and surrendered 20 goals for the first time this season. And ironically enough, as soon as the Breeze started to figure out their deep passing game, their red zone efficiency has dipped down. Over the past two games, DC has completed 72 percent (13-of-18) of their hucks and converted only 77 percent (30-of-39) of their red zone opportunities. And yet for some of the nagging setbacks, this is still absolutely a championship-level team, and the new pieces like Thomas Edmonds, Andrew Roy, Cole Jurek, and Benjamin Oort are taking the Breeze to new heights with their playmaking.
5. Carolina Flyers (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-17 at Philadelphia
With four wins in their last five games, Carolina has rebounded strongly from an 0-2 start for the second time in three seasons. They unlocked the Joe White Experience in Friday night’s key win in DC over the Breeze, and held on tightly until the fourth quarter in Philly against a motivated Phoenix team. The Flyers defense was a tidy 9-of-17 (53 percent) combined on break chances on the weekend, but opponents pounded them with hucks and completed 18-of-26 (69 percent) of their deep attempts over two games.
4. Atlanta Hustle (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 20-11 vs Houston
It’s simply incredible how few mistakes scoring legend Matt Smith commits. In five starts this season he has just one total turnover—a lone throwaway in Week 5 against Houston in a nine-goal Atlanta victory—and Smith has single-digit throwaways in six of his eight seasons in Atlanta. This is a guy who has averaged 62 scores per season during his tenure with the Hustle entering 2023, and who is averaging over 300 yards per game over the past three years. There isn’t a player in the league right now that produces more while subtracting less from his team’s winning efforts.
3. Salt Lake Shred (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 21-17 vs Oakland
Oakland gets underneath the skin of Salt Lake. The Shred are averaging almost 22 turnovers per game in two meetings against the Spiders, and just 14 per game in their four other matchups in 2023. But after a disappointing first half where they trailed at home, the Shred outscored the Spiders 11-5 in the final two quarters, with the young Salt Lake defense elevating again in the clutch. Jordan Kerr is on pace for a 40/40 season after his season-high 10-score night in Week 6, and despite his scoring numbers dipping slightly from his torrid 2022 pace, his impact feels even more significant and timely.
2. Colorado Summit (-)
Most recent result: Win, 27-22 vs Oakland
Coming back from a labrum tear and playing just 10 total points in his season debut two weeks ago, Alex Atkins flexed his full might in the Summit’s big home win this last Sunday. With teammate Quinn Finer throwing rockets all game, Atkins complemented him with just one mistake on 55 touches, showcasing a full throwing skill set with give-and-gos, tight window passes, and full wind-up bombs from 60 yards out. Atkins finished the game with five scores and 570 total yards of offense, and displayed a kind of field command that made the Colorado offense almost not miss Jonathan Nethercutt. But as impressive as the offense was, the defense is starting to show coverage weakness in deep space. The Spiders connected on 14 deep balls in Colorado, and the Summit are giving up the fourth most hucks per game (8.4) in the league this season.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 16-10 at Montreal
The Empire have exchanged the seamless precision of last season’s all-time great offensive machine for the rugged, physical execution that defines this 2023 team, and no player could better epitomize them than Jeff Babbitt. Tied for first in the league in goals (25) and second in blocks (11) while playing 89 percent of his points on O-line, Babbitt has rampaged over opponents no matter what miscues or weather the offense might endure; Babbitt has been held scoreless in two different games this season, and is averaging over six goals per game in his four other starts. New York’s offense ranks just 10th in efficiency and their D-line is 14th in defensive efficiency, showing some flaws in the system this season compared to last year’s title run when they ranked first and second, respectively. But the Empire are still fifth in hold rate (72 percent), and currently lead the league with a ridiculous 40 percent break rate on defense, a mark that would set a new league record if they keep it for the rest of the season.
Follow Adam Ruffner on Twitter