The AUDL Playoff Picture Heading into Week 9

Here's where things stand.

Atlanta Hustle v. New York. Photo: Gino Mattace — Hustle/AUDL.

As the season reaches its final quarter, the playoff picture is coming into focus. While some teams have only played half their games, others have just a handful remaining. Here’s everything we know as we gear up for an exciting finish to the 2021 AUDL season

Atlantic Division

The top four teams will make playoffs. Teams will face each other in 1v4 and 2v3 semi-final matchups. The winners of those games will make Championship Weekend. Additionally, the two Atlantic representatives will not meet in the Championship Weekend semi-final round.

In Playoff Position: Atlanta, DC, Raleigh, New York
Still Alive: Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Eliminated: Tampa Bay

The Atlanta Hustle (7-1) can clinch a playoff spot with a win at home against Pittsburgh this week. With a one game lead in the loss column, the Hustle control their own destiny to host a playoff game. With two games against Pittsburgh and one against Tampa Bay, Atlanta looks to be in excellent shape to play their first round game in Atlanta. Their August 14 game against Raleigh could have seeding implications, though Atlanta isn’t likely to fall out of the #1 or the #2 spot. If the Hustle win out, they are guaranteed to get the #1 seed as the only one loss team in the division.

The DC Breeze (5-2) currently sit in second place and control their own playoff destiny. With four games remaining against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay, the Breeze are almost assured of a playoff spot. Their August 21 game against Raleigh will be tougher, and a loss there could determine which team hosts a playoff game and which team will play on the road. The Breeze hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with Atlanta, so if they win out, they could still get the #1 seed if Atlanta drops a game.

The Raleigh Flyers (5-2) have the toughest schedule of the remaining teams in contention, finishing the season with games at New York, home against Atlanta, and at DC in consecutive weeks. Wins in all of those games will vault Raleigh to the top of the division. A loss or two (or three!) would drop the Flyers to the playoff bubble.

The New York Empire (4-2) have just one game remaining against a team currently in playoff position: a visit from Raleigh. Despite their two losses this season, the Empire should be favored in all of their remaining games. Given Raleigh’s tough schedule, the Empire could jump ahead of them in the standings as the schedule plays out.

The Boston Glory (3-4) are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. With two games left against New York and one against Raleigh, chances are slim that the expansion franchise will sneak its way into a top four spot. An upset in any of those games puts Boston back in the conversation, but the Glory have to be rueing missed opportunities earlier in the season for wins over Atlanta and Philadelphia, which would have them sitting in fourth place at the moment with a record over .500.

The Philadelphia Phoenix (3-5) finish their season with two games against DC, and one each against New York and Boston. Pulling off upsets in all of those games still might not be enough to make the playoffs, as New York and DC each have room to withstand a loss or two and still finish above Philadelphia and Boston. While not technically eliminated yet, the Phoenix should be planning towards next year rather than towards Championship Weekend.

The Tampa Bay Cannons (1-8) and Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (1-5) are sitting at the bottom of the division with just one win apiece. Tampa Bay has already played nine games and are eliminated from playoff contention. Pittsburgh won’t be favored in any of their remaining games. While they are not yet mathematically eliminated, they should not be considered contenders for the playoffs.

Central Division

The top two teams make the playoffs with the top seed hosting. The winner of the divisional playoff game goes to Championship Weekend.

In Playoff Position: Chicago, Minnesota
Still Alive: Madison
Eliminated: Indianapolis, Detroit

The Chicago Union (7-2) can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win over Madison (6-3). After their Week 8 win, Chicago owns the season series and tiebreaker over Minnesota (6-2), so the Wind Chill are pulling for a Radicals win. Chicago has two games against Detroit after that game against Madison, in which they will be heavily favored.

The Minnesota Wind Chill have two games against Indianapolis and one against Detroit — all of which they’ll be expected to win to keep pace with Chicago. Their Week 12 matchup against Madison looms as a potential winner-take-all event.

The Madison Radicals have a tough schedule, with games against Chicago and Minnesota still on the docket. If they are able to win those games, they will likely force a three way tie at 9-3 and leave point differential to decide who makes the playoffs and who misses out. If they lose either game, they are all but eliminated given that their point differential is so much worse than the other two teams (Chicago has +7, Minnesota has +1, but Madison is at -8). Consequently, Madison needs a resounding win over Chicago to get back into the playoff hunt. (The AUDL’s Daniel Cohen wrapped this up nicely, laying out the potential for a three way tie if Madison wins this weekend.)

The Indianapolis Alleycats (3-7) and Detroit Mechanix (0-8) are eliminated from playoff contention.

West Division

The top two teams make the playoffs with the top seed hosting. The winner of the divisional playoff game goes to Championship Weekend.

In Playoff Position: San Diego, Dallas
Still Alive: Austin, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Jose

The San Diego Growlers (6-2) are two games ahead in the loss column and can clinch a home field playoff game with three wins in their final four games. The Growlers need just a single win to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, as they hold a 2-0 season series lead over Austin.

The Dallas Roughnecks (6-4) and Austin Sol (5-5) each only have games against San Jose and each other left. Assuming both beat the Spiders (which isn’t a given — San Jose beat Austin earlier this season), the August 7 matchup between the two could be a winner-take-all event for the second playoff spot.

The Los Angeles Aviators (3-5) are suddenly back in the hunt after road wins over Seattle and San Jose. If the Aviators can beat both of those teams at home and sneak two wins against San Diego, they could make the playoffs if Dallas loses their final two games and Austin loses to San Jose.1

The Seattle Cascades (3-5) are in a similar boat, needing to win their remaining games (a roadtrip to San Diego and LA and a home-and-home with San Jose) and hope for two Dallas losses and an Austin loss to the Spiders.2

The San Jose Spiders (2-4) have only played half their games. With doubleheader weekends in Texas and southern California still on the docket and a home-and-home with Seattle left, the Spiders are not technically eliminated, but they have taken losses to every team in the division except Austin. It will take a very impressive finish (going at least 4-2, including a win over Dallas) for the Spiders to advance past the regular season this year; while it is unlikely, it is still possible in the Wild, Wild West.

  1. Austin holds the tiebreaker over LA 

  2. Austin holds the tiebreaker over Seattle 

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).


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