Power Rankings: Week 11


  By Adam Ruffner 

Rank Team Record Trend Comment



9-1 - Jonathan Nethercutt is the odds-on frontrunner for the MVP, especially after his second 12+ assist game in his last four appearances on Saturday against Nashville. But Justin Allen's season should not go unnoticed, as he might be the most dangerous player leading the counterattack in AUDL history.  Even though he leads his team in defensive points played (157), he's also fifth in goals (17) and second in assists (28), throwing a score in almost one out of every five passes, while still completing a robust 94 percent of his throws. Allen has always been a shooter, but now that he's calibrated his throws and is picking his spots better, he's truly maximizing his potential as a gamebreaking playmaker.



8-2 - Dallas doesn't control it's path towards the postseason, but if Raleigh loses just one in their final four games, the Roughnecks can suddenly reassume their position atop the South Division and host a playoff game for the second straight season. And like Justin Allen, Dalton Smith is having a historically productive season while playing on the defensive unit. He's tied for 21st in the league in scores (34 assists, 17 goals), and has improved his efficiency numbers across the board since last season despite his workload increasing three fold.



7-2 +2 Since losing to the Cascades on May 13, the FlameThrowers have been on a tear. They're averaging 30 goals per game, with an average margin of victory of nine goals per contest during their three-game winning streak. Cassidy Rasmussen has led the team in both assists (14) and blocks (5) over that same stretch, and is now leading the league in scores with 72 in just eight games played.



7-3 +3 The Breeze mollywhopped the Rush again at home on Sunday by a score of 25-17, winning for the third consecutive time against Toronto in DC since 2016 and in the process establishing a new power paradigm in the East. And while veteran leaders like Alan Kolick, Delrico Johnson, and Rowan McDonnell all had stellar performances, the youth on this team continue to raise the ceiling of DC's potential playoff push. Max Cassell and Tyler Monroe were once again stellar against the Rush, combining for five assists and four goals, while up-and-coming receiving bigman Joe Freund scored four goals in his AUDL debut.



7-3 -1 Toronto was playing a solid game against DC until a couple of long points in the heat took their already fatigued legs and wore them into nubs, triggering a four-goal Breeze run that stretched their lead from 9-7 to an insurmountable 13-7 gap in a matter of minutes. And now, despite playing great ultimate for a month straight, the Rush are in danger of losing back-to-back games for the second time this season. Reminder: That had never happened even once in Toronto's franchise history before 2017.



7-1 -3 Despite last Saturday being one Minnesota's most important games in franchise history, the team started out flat and fell behind 11-4 to the visiting Radicals before making a tremendous comeback and falling just short of keeping their perfect record. And suddenly, the Wind Chill's grasp on first place in the Midwest looks very tenuous, as they have each of their next five games on the road. Josh Klane (37 assists, 395 completions at 94 percent) continues to have one of the most productive throwing seasons in franchise history, but he's struggled a bit on the road in two games so far this season, completing just 87 percent of his passes in those games.  



7-3 - Jacksonville converted 92 percent of their offensive possessions on Saturday against Atlanta into scores despite missing Mischa Freystaetter and Cole Sullivan from the lineup. In their stead, Bobby Ley, Chris LaRocque, and Andrew Roney combined to complete 183 passes and 14 assists compared to just five throwaways, while Jordan Huston (8 goals) and Jeremy Langdon (7 goals) seemingly got open at will. In the past Jacksonville has been (rightfully) critiqued for their lack of depth, but Saturday's win—that may have effectively clinched the Cannons their second playoff berth—went a long way in demonstrating just how different the 2017 Cannons are over past years.



6-2 +2 The Radicals quickly reversed their trajectory from back-to-back losses to their fifth win in six games with their most impressive win of the season over the Wind Chill in Minnesota in overtime. It was a top-down team win with seemingly every member of Madison making a play to contribute to the victory, but the takeaway performance belonged to Sterling Knoche. An AUDL rookie, Knoche has been a revelation since returning from injury in late May, generating a team-high 10 blocks in Madison's last four games, including a momentum-changing, shoulder-high interception that set up a late game break score on Saturday.



6-3 -3 The early season magic of the Spiders and their efficient offense is starting to wear off, as they've now lost two in a row and have failed to score 20 goals in two of their past three games on the way to falling out of first place in the West. The problem, plain and simple, is turnovers. During San Jose's six-game winning streak, they averaged just 20 turnovers per game. Compare that to Saturday's loss in San Francisco, where the Spiders committed 42 on their way to their worst loss of the season.



5-4 +1 It was announced earlier this week that Mark Elbogen will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear, removing an MVP candidate who was averaging seven scores per game from LA's roster as they looked to make their playoff push. It's a debilitating loss, but there is a potential upside for the Aviators as Tom Doi has shifted from defense to offense, and quickly gelled with Eli Friedman to form one of the most potent 1-2 combos in the division. Since Doi became a member of the O-line, LA is averaging nearly 26 goals per game in their last three, while beating both San Jose and Seattle, two teams that the Aviators are directly competing against for the final playoff spots in the division.



5-5 +1 Saturday's remarkable seven-goal comeback win against the Cascades was the most impressive win in San Diego's franchise history, not only because of the seemingly unassailable deficit, but also given the team's precarious position in the standings. The Growlers have now roared back from a 1-5 start to the brink of contention and their first possible playoff appearance. And though he's perennially underrated or forgotten about, Steven Milardovich continues to be one of the best defenders in the West, if not the entire AUDL. He came up with two critical blocks late during the Growlers comeback, and continues to show an ability to matchup with any player on the field.



6-4 +2 The Royal have to be the people's' champion of the 2017 season, as they continue to amass wins on their way towards the possibility of qualifying for the final four and playing in front of a home crowd for the title. And though there are a lot of players deserving of credit for Montreal's continued ascendance, there's no player on the team quite on the level of Quentin Bonnaud right now. Despite Montreal and Ottawa combining for just 29 scores on Saturday, Bonnaud somehow contributed seven of them all on his own. Though his prowess is in his receiving abilities—he leads the team with 32 goals—his throws, especially his hucks, are equally impressive, as he now has 17 assists on 123 completions with just six throwaways in 2017.



4-4 -4 The West Division is a tightrope walk, and the Cascades found that out the hard way after holding leads in each of their games last weekend before losing to San Diego and Los Angeles, and in the process taking Seattle from second place to fifth. Mark Burton and his endless supply of throws continue to put up points, but the defense has been unable to produce stops when the team needs them most during Seattle's three-game slide. The Cascades are dead last in the league in blocks per game, averaging under two per game, the lowest total in AUDL history.



4-6 -1 Barring some kind of miraculous four-game run to close the season, coupled with Jacksonville completely falling apart, the Hustle are likely to miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons following their loss to the Cannons, Atlanta's third loss since May 20. The difficult part has to be how well their offense has performed this season despite their record, converting 70 percent of all their offensive points into scores, putting the Hustle as a top five unit in the AUDL.



4-3 - Are the Thunderbirds experiencing a down year, or are they potentially a sleeping giant? Having played just seven games in the first 11 weeks of the season—and with still three more games against Madison (1) and Minnesota (2) on their schedule—Pittsburgh has a lot of different directions their season could trend towards in the next month. A win over Madison tomorrow would huge, but so would the solidifying their roster lineups. Just five Thunderbirds have played in all seven of the team's games, replicating the issues of inconsistency from 2016 that the team faced. With all of their talent on the field at the same time, Pittsburgh could challenge anyone in the Midwest, but that potential has yet to be reached.



2-5 +1 Much like the team above them in the rankings, the Empire's 2017 season remains largely unwritten. Their poor start is definitely noteworthy, but they aren't necessarily defined by it; San Diego started 1-5, and look at their momentum. The upside for New York is their schedule, as they have just one game left against Toronto, none against DC, and a feast of games against Ottawa, Montreal, and Philadelphia teams that the Empire are 16-3 against since the beginning of 2015.



2-5 -1 The Outlaws continue to battle in close games, but their poor passing efficiency has torpedoed much of the team's chances for success. Ottawa is completing just 90 percent of their throws as a team, the third worst mark in the AUDL. And beyond Kinley Gee and Derek Alexander, the team lacks depth at the handler position, leading to a lot of ill-advised or forced passes. The upside is that the Outlaws are still only at the halfway point of their schedule, and with each team in the East having no fewer than three losses, the Outlaws have plenty of time to eliminate their errors and make a run.



2-7 - Even though it was a loss, before Saturday's 28-goal performance against Toronto, the Phoenix's franchise high against the Rush was just 21 goals in four seasons of play. Sean Mott tossed a career-high 10 assists, and Marques Brownlee and William Hoehne each tallied six goals, but the unsung hero behind Philadelphia's recent offensive successes just might be Scott Xu. Nominally a handler, Xu is one of the best in the East at continuing his handler cuts upfield for opportunistic goals, allowing Philly to cycle their offensive looks quickly and keep opposing defenses on their toes.



2-7 - After a bye week, the Sol face the Roughnecks tomorrow and are still searching for their first win against their rivals from Dallas in six prior meetings. Though Austin still hasn't figured out a consistent strategy that is effective against the champs, they return big receiving threat Ethan Pollack to the lineup this weekend after missing five of the team's nine games. When in the lineup, Pollack has been one of the team's best weapons against the Roughnecks, scoring 17 goals in six career games against Dallas.



2-6 - The AlleyCats rank second to last in the Midwest in completing passes, completing just 91 percent through their first eight games, the lowest mark for the franchise since the start of the 2014 season. For as much as Indy has improved their playmaking and depth, the team has lost part of the identity that made them such a difficult matchup in their first few years as a franchise: Offensive consistency and patience.



2-6 - Chicago's record does not communicate how well they've played teams in 2017. Though they're just 1-5 against the power teams in the division Madison, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota, four of those losses were by three goals or fewer. The Wildfire still have a lot to improve if they want to make it to the playoffs, but their changes may be more tweaks than overhauls as I previously thought in the past.



1-9 - There's little to make sense of in Vancouver's season so far. Each year, the Riptide are a team on paper that could compete with seemingly anyone in the West. Yet each season, the team comes up short of expectations by a considerable margin. The Riptide are converting just 39 percent of their overall possessions into scores, the third worst mark in the AUDL this season and the lowest rate in franchise history for Vancouver.



1-6 - Detroit has an intriguing weekend ahead of themselves. On Saturday, they play on the road against an Indy team that has given the Mechanix fits, outscoring Detroit 57-38 in their two previous matchups this season. But then on Sunday, they get a tired Madison at home with the chance for groundbreaking upset.



0-9 - Saturday was the six time in nine games this season the NightWatch surrendered 30 or more goals, but given that the NightWatch travelled with only 15 players to Raleigh, it's a small victory the team kept the game as close for as long as they did. The NightWatch traded goals with the division leaders through most of the second quarter before the Flyers took off down the stretch. Most encouragingly for Nashville is the continued emergence of their young talent, as players like Carter Rae and Grant Waldron are starting to make their presences felt on a weekly basis.

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