Unlike the MLU, the AUDL isn’t nearly as far along in the season, with only three out of twelve teams more than halfway through. This means it’s harder to completely rule losing teams out, and it’s harder to count on any team as a sure thing. Still, the theme of the AUDL Playoff Odds is that three teams have separated themselves from the pack, just like in the MLU. Check out my MLU Playoff Odds for an explanation of this system.
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In the Eastern Conference the Rush have a very good chance at finishing 16-0. The only question at this point is how motivated they’ll be to finish undefeated. If the Rush do rest their starters down the stretch, it could mean they drop a game. Given the 5-1 start the Phoenix had, it may be surprising to see a 5-5 finish predicted. But the Phoenix had some very close calls this season, winning by one against Rochester and DC. With only six games played, the Phoenix have four two game weekends coming up.
This past weekend the Phoenix played their first two game set, barely beating Rochester on Sunday 17-16.
And that was with the Dragons having played the day before. They have yet to play the Empire, and their point differential isn’t as strong as one would like from a 5-1 team. Even though the Phoenix schedule is about to get much tougher, their 5-1 start should be enough to get them comfortably into the playoffs. The Dragons are the only team in the bottom three of the East that have a decent chance at making the playoffs. Since their 0-4 start with a -9.5 goal differential, they have gone 3-2 with a 0 goal differential. Over that same span New York is 2-2, albeit with a +3.5 goal differential. The Dragons have three games left against the Rush, making a comeback very difficult. They have to win one of those games and hope for a Phoenix or Empire slump to get back in the race. The Breeze have fewer projected wins than the Hammerheads, but a greater chance of making the playoffs. That’s because the Breeze have fewer losses, meaning a higher possible ceiling, even if it is unlikely that they reach it.
In the Midwest I like the Wildfire’s chances to finish first. Even if they have to occasionally play without Brodie Smith, as they will this weekend, the Wildfire can still beat any team in the conference. They beat the Radicals in Madison without Smith, and still have a very strong contingent of Machine players. Much like the Rush the Wildfire are very likely to finish first, and might drop a game or two later in the season. The Radicals still have road games against Minnesota and Windy City, and a back to back road trip in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. But with their Hodag players returning the Radicals will only be improving from here. That should help overcome their much more road heavy second half of the season.
The race for third place in the Midwest is the most contested playoff race in the AUDL. This past weekend the AlleyCats swept the Revolution in Cincinnati, establishing themselves as the clear favorite in the race. They only trail the Radicals by one game, but they’re unlikely to challenge Madison for second place. The AlleyCats do have a few challenging remaining home games remaining, but they could essentially clinch the playoffs if they win them. This weekend they play at home against the Wildfire without Brodie Smith. In week 10 they play at home against Madison who will be on the second end of a back to back, and in week 13 they play Minnesota who will also be on the second end of a back to back. If they can win two of those three they’ll make the playoffs even if they go 0-4 on their two road trips to Madison and Minnesota.
The Wind Chill have a positive point differential, but their slow start means they can’t afford any missteps the rest of the season. If they lose their two road games in Chicago they have to sweep their three remaining games against the AlleyCats, and beat the Radicals when they visit Minnesota. The Revolution looked primed to compete for the final playoff spot until they dropped three in a row to Indianapolis. At 3-6 they could end up totally out of it after their road trip to Madison and Minnesota this weekend. Their only wins this season have come against the Mechanix and a one point victory over a Minnesota team on the second game of a back-to-back. The Mechanix are another team that started strong and have faded since. They have three games remaining against the Wildfire, with two on the road. Even if they win their remaining home game against the Wildfire, the Mechanix would have to win their two games against the AlleyCats, and home games against the Radicals and Revolution to finish 8-8. The Mechanix showed promise in their loss at home to the Wildfire, but their remaining schedule is probably too difficult to get the final playoff spot.
In the Eastern Conference playoffs it’s difficult to see the Phoenix or Empire beating the Rush. The Phoenix played the Rush well in their first game, we’ll see on Saturday whether or not it was a fluke. New York is hoping the main difference between it and Toronto is that Toronto has more playing experience together. With more playing time together, New York should improve throughout the season. They have some of the best players on the AUDL on their team, but depth and chemistry are concerns.
In the Midwest a Windy City-Madison conference final seems inevitable. Madison will most likely focus on being 100% for the playoffs rather than worry about trying to finish first during the regular season. With that in mind, the Midwest Conference Championship game should be a classic. The winner will probably take on the Rush. The Rush are the most likely to win it all, since they’re evenly matched with both Madison and Windy City and have a much easier path to the finals. One factor helping the Wildfire and hindering the east coast teams is that the final is being held in Chicago. The Wildfire will have homefield advantage, and the Rush will have a long trip to get there. With two teams that appear to be evenly matched, home field advantage could be a difference maker.
Feature photo by Alex Fraser – UltiPhotos.com