Power Rankings: Week 2

By Adam Ruffner 

Rank Team Record Trend Comment



2-0 - The difference in the Roughnecks' 33-18 downing of the Flyers in 35mph winds was Dallas' skill with the disc. When it comes to fearlessness with the disc, the handling core of Matt Bennett, Chris Mazur, Brandon Malecek, Dylan Freechild, and Jimmy Mickle might be the five best in the league. Normally an 85 percent completion rating would be abhorrent stat for a team of this caliber, but given the conditions on Sunday, it was a pretty remarkable feat. And the Roughnecks still converted 85 percent of their offensive points into scores despite committing 48 turnovers on the day, which speaks to the all-around potency of this team's O-line and its ability to win back the disc.



1-1 - Going back to last season, the FlameThrowers struggle on the road, so while their loss at San Jose is an upset, it doesn't really do anything to dispel this San Francisco team's championship chances. Cassidy Rasmussen looks like the MVP through two weeks, throwing 13 assists and scoriung another nine goals with only four turnovers in two games; he also leads the team in completions (87) by a margin of 31. The problem that is beginning to emerge for the FlameThrowers is that they can't slow opposing offenses down: Going back to 2016, San Francisco has allowed 20+ goals in 10 straight games (25.6 per game allowed), with every team in the West contributing to that number.



1-0 - Part of the reason why Madison comes off as such a daunting opponent every year is their ability to start each season. The Radicals are now 5-0 all-time in season openers, allowing fewer than 20 goals in each of their last four. In fact, the team hasn't lost a game in April since the 2014 season, going 6-0 in the opening month over the past two seasons while outscoring opponents 163-93. The last team to beat them in April? Minnesota, their next opponent.



2-1 - The Flyers seem limited to two very different outcomes: soar or struggle, with little in between. And after last weekend's split against Austin and Dallas, Raleigh is 1-3 in two Texas road trips and allowing 28 goals per game going back to 2016. Now they must face their most heated rival in Jacksonville, a game that may have important playoff implications later in the season. The Flyers were just 1-4 following a loss last season, succumbing to two different three-game losing streaks. If the Flyers truly want to be the championship contenders, they have to start this weekend with a big win over the Cannons.



1-0 +1 DC played an almost perfect game on Sunday against the best team in the division in what was the most impressive win in franchise history. The team completed 95 percent of their throws on the way to converting 91 percent of their offensive points into goals, with six different Breeze players throwing at least three assists. Toronto entered the matchup touting a serious arsenal of young talent, but it was DC's youth led by Lloyd Blake (3 assists, 0 turns), Max Cassell (4 assists, 4 goals), and Tyler Monroe (4 assists, 7 goals) that looked like they can elevate the Breeze to new highs in 2017.



1-1 -1 Sunday was the first time in five seasons the Rush have dropped a game in the opening month of the season, and it was their largest defeat in team history. Despite the loss, the split on the weekend can be taken as a success, and Toronto learned three important facts about themselves. 1) The youth on this team is ready to win them games in the East right now, as shown in their win at New York despite missing Mark Lloyd, Remi Ojo, Gord Harrison, and Ben Burelle. 2) Jonathan Martin, who was a darkhorse MVP candidate before an injury in 2015, looks to be back at full health for the first time in nearly two years, adding another stellar defender to their lineup. 3) One of the most feared coverage specialists in the division, Andrew Carroll, looks as good as a receiver (eight goals in two games) as he does a defender.



1-0 +1 Including the playoffs, Jacksonville is just 2-5 against Raleigh, but four of those losses have come by two goals or fewer. But what makes tomorrow's matchup so important is the mental edge it would give the Cannons: A win would make it the first time ever Jacksonville stood above Raleigh in the South Division standings. The Cannons got both of their previous wins through sheer offensive firepower, and with their 40-goal debut to 2017, it looks like they're prepared to do it again.



0-1 -1 The new pieces looked great—Harper Garvey (6 assists), Conor Kline (2 goals), and Craig Cox (2 blocks) each made significant plays in their Empire debuts—but the end result was the same frustration; New York is now 0-13 all-time when they face Toronto. The good news is they only face the Rush once more this season. But the Empire host four of their next five games at home, with their final five games of 2017 being on the road. If the Empire want to unlock the potential their roster holds and reach the postseason for the fifth straight season, they'll have to flex on opponents during this homestand before encountering the grueling conclusion to their schedule.



0-0 - Oh, just add a former Callahan finalist Eric "EJ" Johnson to the list of savvy Wind Chill signings in 2017. The last time Johnson played with the team in 2014, he averaged 30 completions, three assists, and just one turnover per game in five appearances, which is exactly the kind of steady handler production that could take this Minnesota team from very good to great.



2-0 +2 The Aviators accomplished their first 2-0 start in franchise history largely thanks to the unflappable pacing and structure of their offense. It bears a lot of resemblance to Madison's no-frills, execution focused system: Los Angeles employs skilled, possession-oriented throwers in their backfield, is patient with the disc, and loves to use the horizontal dimension of the field to swing the disc and constantly reposition the defense. They make very few mistakes, and when they do, they have the kind of team mentality that will win the disc back more times than not. The Aviators O-line is converting 70 percent of their points into scores through two games, vastly improving their efficiency over past seasons.



0-0 -1 Pittsburgh is one of just three teams—along with Madison and Toronto—to average at least 25 goals per game in each of the last two seasons. Much of the credit for their offensive production goes to the throwers that initiate the Thunderbirds' explosive deep attack, but every season seems to unearth a new receiving talent. In 2015, David Vatz rose from relative obscurity to post 62 goals. Last year, Max Sheppard capitalized on his freakish athleticism to haul in 30 goals in just 11 games. With the absences of Aaron Watson and Rob Dulabon this season, expect a new name on Pittsburgh to to step up once again and fill an important scoring role.



1-0 -1 They've played with a different lineup in each of the games, but Seattle has won five of their last six going back to last season—with three of those wins on the road—their lone loss coming in the championship game to the Roughnecks. The Cascades might be the most adaptable team in the league, and that means a lot out in the West where every team is competitive.



1-1 +7 Justin Norden is an oddity. He doesn't stride out on his throws, the pace on his discs visibly lack the power of his peers, his overhead throws have wobble to them a lot of the times, and he rarely breaks from the handler line to become a receiver downfield. But make no mistake: He's the best handler in the AUDL right now, and by a margin. He has 14 assists and 121 completions in two games compared to just five turnovers, and has been the main force at the center of a Spiders offense that has put up 53 goals in two games against a juggernaut San Francisco lineup. Norden's star quality is his field vision and pacing. He can lull defenses into a coma with his small ball, throw-and-go rhythm without making any mistakes, and then completely destroy them with a perfectly timed and placed huck into space. If he can keep the offense executing at the level it's currently at, expect the Spiders to compete for a playoff spot deep into the season.



0-2 - Despite losing by seven, the Sol trailed by just three at one point in the second half before allowing Raleigh to go on a 7-3 run to close out the game. Austin is now 1-6 in the month of April in their first two seasons, with two more games yet this month against Dallas and Raleigh. With the team still looking to solidify its identity, it's been brutal to have their schedule begin against the best the South Division has to offer.



0-1 - Not a moment too soon, the 2016 MVP Dylan Tunnell returns to the Atlanta lineup this weekend against Nashville. Tunnell was very effective in three appearances against the NightWatch last year, throwing a team-high 12 assists and 114 completions as the Hustle team averaged 27.0 goals in those games. It's impossible to call any game this early in the season a must-win, but this matchup is as close as it gets for an Atlanta team hoping to make it's second straight postseason.



0-1 - Offensively, the 26 goals the Growlers scored in their season opener is well above their average from a season ago, and points to good things heading into the new season for the team. But defensively, this team struggles in the first month of the season. Going back to 2015, San Diego is just 1-8 in the month of April while allowing more than 25+ goals in six of those contests. Next weekend the Growlers travel to the Bay to take on SF and SJ, two of the best offenses in the league. It would be a great time for the new additions on San Diego to make statements and recalibrate the team's trajectory into 2017.



1-1 - There's much talk of New York's Jeff Babbitt having a legitimate shot at the first 40-goal, 40-block season in AUDL history, but nobody seems to notice that Rick Gross of the AlleyCats is also on pace for a record-setting season. After Saturday's six-goal, four-block performance, Gross now has 10 goals and six blocks through two games, putting him on target for a 70/42 season. That kind of stellar production is probably unsustainable, but Gross was just two assists and six blocks shy of a 30-30-30 season a year ago, so there's little doubt of his ability to produce for the 'Cats.



0-0 - Ottawa quietly closed the 2016 season on a 6-2 run, with wins over every team in the division excluding the Rush. With the bulk of their roster returning, it remains to be seen of the Outlaws can continue their hot streak of play into the new season. The best prognosticator for this team's success is how well they score: Ottawa was 6-0 last season in games they scored at least 25 goals.



0-2 -4 It's the first time since 2015 that the Riptide have failed to score 20 goals in back-to-back games, and already equals the total number of sub-20 goal games (2) from last season. Other than Brendan Wong (eight goals in two games), the offense looks out of sync. Vancouver is completing just 89 percent of their passes through two games, even though they have taken a relatively few number of deep throw attempts. Anatoly Vasilyev (6 assists, 49 completions on Sunday) will be critical to this team's success until the rest of the lineup picks up the pace.



0-0 -1 Last season Felix-Antoine Daigle became the first player in AUDL history to register over 500 completions and 20 blocks in a single season, vastly overproducing his role as an O-line handler. With more talent around him this season, it will be interesting to see if Daigle replicates his production numbers from 2016, or if he can slot into a more specialized position.



0-0 -1 Much like Ottawa, the Phoenix can tether some of their expectations to how well they produce on offense. Philly's lone win in the last two seasons came when they scored 26 goals against Rochester back in 2015, which is just one of five times the team has scored 20+ goals over the last two seasons. With an improved defensive lineup featuring Nicky Spiva, Marques Brownlee, and Matt Esser, Philadelphia's offense will be able to focus much more on a patient attack, rather than going all out to make up for their defensive deficiencies as they have done in the past.



0-0 -1 Chicago had eight games last season when they failed to score 20 goals in a game, going just 2-6 in those contests despite the stinginess of their team defense. Chicago begins its season against Pittsburgh, who went 2-0 against the Wildfire in 2016. The upside of the matchup is that the Wildfire have had offensive successes against the Thunderbirds, averaging 22.5 goals per game in last season's series.



0-1 - The team didn't win the game, but the Mechanix's young defensive specialist Nathan Champoux continues to make plays. Since his pro debut last season as an 18-year-old, Champoux has registered a block in each of his 14 appearances, and now has 37 blocks in his burgeoning career. He's already in elite company: The only players with more blocks since the beginning of the 2016 season are Anson Reppermund (42), Peter Graffy (42), and Dan Emmons (39), all members of the 2016 All-AUDL Defense Team.



0-1 - Tomorrow's matchup against the Hustle at home figures to be Nashville's best shot at a win for the foreseeable future, and this team knows it. If they get the W, it will likely be because of the performance of Blake Waldron, who averaged 4+ assists, 40+ completions, and almost two goals per game in three appearances against Atlanta last season.

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