AFI Year-End Europe 2023 Top 25 Rankings – The Complete List & Analysis

The AFI team is proud to present our 2023 Year-End Europe Top 25 complete list and analysis. This year’s rankings were not easy to come by as we covered all of Europe’s top teams and top leagues across the continent.

Using the NCAA AP ranking points system, we have arrived at the Top 25 teams in Europe. Our five-man panel includes former and current players and coaches, and we have carefully reviewed all European teams and games.

The list features nine teams from the European League of Football followed by five teams from the German Football League. The French FFA Elite and Italian Football League had two teams along with the Finnish Maple League and the Austrian Football League. The list also included the Danish and Swedish National Champions. 

Germany had 11 total teams, followed by Austria with three, Finland, France, and Italy also had two teams included in the list. While Denmark and Sweden round out the list with one team each.

Honorable Mention: The Polish champions Bialystok Lowlanders, Swiss Bowl Champion Calanda Broncos, the Berlin Rebels of the German Football League, and the ELF’s Hamburg Sea Devils

25. Marseille Blue Stars (9-3 – French Runners Up)


After many years of closing in on the top teams in the French league, the Marseille Blue Stars finally reached the championship game, defeating the Flash La Courneuve in the semifinals in the process. They lost to the Thonon Black Panthers in the final, but will no doubt be knocking on the door next season.

24. Stockholm Mean Machines (9-1 Swedish Superserien Champions)

The Swedish powerhouse once again took home the national championship this year finishing with an undefeated record in the Swedish Superserein. On top of that, Stockholm defeated the Kuopio Steelers in the CEFL, before taking the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns down to the wire in the CEFL’s 2nd round of play.

23. Copenhagen Towers (10-0 Danish National League Champions)

The Towers remained to the class of the Danish Football scene as this veteran group once again hoisted the Mermaid Bowl this year pulling off a historic three-peat and their seventh national championship in the last 10 seasons. To top it off the Towers went undefeated this year with a perfect 10-0 record in the Danish National League.

22. Vienna Vikings (8-4 Austrian Football League Runners Up)

The ability to sport two teams in the top 25 is no mean feat. This is what the Vienna Vikings have done with a team in the ELF and the AFL. The AFL representative reached its second final in a row this year and just missed out after failing to prevent a comeback from the Dragons.

21. Paris Musketeers (6-6 European League of Football)

The expansion Parisians got off to a rocky start in the ELF with a record of 2-6 in the first eight weeks. However, the team slowly began to find its footing winning four games in a row to finish the season, all while competing in likely the toughest division in Europe, as the ELF western conference boasts of the top-ranked Rhein Fire, Frankfurt Galaxy, and Hamburg Sea Devils.

20. Seinäjoki Crocodiles (12-2 Finnish Maple League Runners Up)

The Crocodiles fell just short of the championship in Finland as they still finished with an impressive 12-2 record boasting the Maple League top scoring offense and defense. Seinäjoki looks to bring back its core of players for 2024 and be among the favorites for a Maple Bowl run in 2024.

19. Saarland Hurricanes (9-4 German Football League Quarterfinalists)

With a little help from the nearby American military base, the Saarland Hurricanes were once again one of the GFL’s top teams this year. Their perfectly balanced offense led them to the playoffs where they narrowly missed out on the semi-finals after being beaten by the Monarchs by one score.

18. Thonon Black Panthers (14-2 French National Champions and CEFL Runners Up)

Much of the attention in France was taken by the Paris Musketeers this year but there was still a domestic league to be played. The Thonon Black Panthers stormed their way to the final this year and comfortably dispatched the Marseille Blue Stars to capture their fourth title.

17. Porvoo Butchers (10-4 Finnish Maple Bowl Champions)

The Porvoo Butchers are this year’s Maple Bowl Champions representing Finland in the top 25 poll. The gritty team led by several European veterans pulled off the upset in the championship game against the Seinajoki Crocodiles and won their first championship since 2010.

16. Danube Dragons (10-2 Austrian Football League Champions)

For the second year running, the Danube Dragons secured the Austrian national title this year. Fred Armstrong and newly appointed NFL Academy Defensive Coordinator Daniel Docal the best defense in the league and mounted a fantastic comeback to beat the Vienna Vikings (AFL team).

15. Firenze Guelfi (8-2 Italian Football League Runners Up)

Since Head Coach Art Briles took over in Florence, the Guelfi have been right up there each year fighting for an Italian Bowl. This year was no different and despite Briles not joining the team in person at the Italian Bowl, there were very few hiccups outside of some injuries to key players. The Italian Bowl did not go the way the Guelfi had hoped but they still sported one of the most dynamic offenses in Europe.

14. Allgäu Comets (9-4 German Football League Quarterfinalists)

The Comets finished the 2023 season with a 9-3 regular season record before losing a heart-breaking double overtime playoff game to the New Yorker Lions. The Comets continue to develop domestic talent as impact imports such as standout quarterback Javarian Smith led teh comets the the GFL’s 4th best offense and defense in the GFL in terms of yards.

13. Raiders Tirol (8-4 European League of Football)

The first year without Sean Shelton at the helm was a bit of a mess for the Raiders. Expectations were pretty low after they signed Canadian gunslinger Christian Strong. He did however exceed all expectations and ranked as one of the league’s top quarterbacks until the team mysteriously cut him and lost their star wideout Jarvin McClam too. Things started to go downhill from there and the team didn’t even make the playoffs, despite having one of the most loaded rosters in Europe.

12. Wroclaw Panthers (8-5 European League of Football Wild Card)

The single Polish representative in the ELF had high hopes for the 2023 season. Whilst their defense was slightly suspect, their offense was explosive. Tony Tate was one of the league’s best receivers and kept them well within playoff contention until his injury bug emerged.

11. Parma Panthers (9-1 Italian Football League Champions)

The Panthers started slowly but finished the season in-stride. Their defense was the best in the IFL and was complimented by a fantastic rushing attack. The Italian Bowl was controversially held in Ohio, US, this year but proved to be an excellent backdrop for the now six-time champions.

10. Munich Ravens (7-5 European League of Football)

The Munich Ravens were one of the best offensive teams in Europe this past season. The defense did have pieces too, but the heartbeat of this team was the ELF triple crown winner, young athletic offensive line and selection of European assets.

9. Berlin Thunder (8-5 European League of Football Wild Card)

The Berlin Thunder mission statement was very clear going into the season. “All the offensive firepower available”, although they didn’t lead the league in points or scoring the offensive potential was abundantly evident. Former CFL, NFL IPP and GFL record breakers at the receiver core propelled them into a successful season in the ELF.

8. New Yorker Lions (11-3 German Football League Semifinalists)

After a couple of shaky years, The Lions appeared to have regained some of their former glory.Their running game defined them this year as British running back Dwayne Obi had a breakout year and led the league with 105.5 yards per game.

7. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (11-4 German Football League Runners Up)

After losing long-time Head Coach Jordan Nueman and a slew of players to the ELF, the Unicorns looked in trouble. Despite a poor opening to the season, the unicorns managed to turn it around however and made their way to the German Bowl before losing out to the Potsdam Royals.

6. Frankfurt Galaxy (11-3 European League of Football Semifinalists)

The Galaxy did not get a lot of hype going into the 2023 ELF season, but proved themselves to be one of the league’s premier teams over the season.  Frankfurt went 10-2 in the regular season and won a playoff game before losing in the semifinal.  They only lost to one team all year: the Rhein Fire, who were simply too much for an opponent to handle.  Overall, the Galaxy have a lot to be proud of from 2023.

5. Dresden Monarchs (11-3 German Football League Semifinalists)

Monarchs’ quarterback Steven Duncan had one of the most dominant seasons we’ve seen in the GFL for some time. He threw for a shocking 4,703 yards, 58 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. The Monarchs narrowly missed out on a German Bowl final this year after falling in the semifinals but remained one of the most potent offenses in Europe.

4. Potsdam Royals (14-1 German Football League Champions)

The Royals were near perfect this year in the GFL breaking all kinds of records and capped it off with an impressive 34–7 victory of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. The question does remain though, how much has the competition level in the GFL decreased since the emergence of the ELF.

3. Vienna Vikings (13-1 European League of Football Semifinalists)

The 2022 ELF champions went undefeated in the regular season before losing their first playoff game against the Surge in the ELF semifinals.  It was an unexpected blow to a team that had dominated the league since they joined it the year before.  Still, the Austrian squad has been among Europe’s best for several years now, and it should be no surprise to see them near the top of the list yet again.

2. Stuttgart Surge (11-3 European League of Football Runners Up)

The Surge were the unfortunate bunch that had to meet the Fire in the ELF title game, and they hung with them for a while before fading away late.  Still, though, they had an outstanding season, highlighted by an upset over the Vienna Vikings on the road in the semifinals.  After going 2-20 over the league’s first two seasons, they evolved into an ELF version of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns thanks to the hire of Jordan Neuman, which brought them immediate success.

1. Rhein Fire (14-0 European League of Football Champions)

The Fire steamrolled their way to an ELF championship in 2023, capping off an undefeated season with a win in the title game on their home field.  They came into the year with a stacked roster on paper on both sides of the ball and lived up to the hype in a dominant season.  Averaging 45 points per game over the regular season, nobody else could keep up with their offensive firepower.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.