AFI Year-End Europe Top 25 rankings countdown: List of Top 10 teams in Europe could raise eyebrows

We have finally arrived at the Top 10 teams in our countdown of the best 25 teams in Europe.

The AFI team is proud to present our Year-End Europe Top 25 countdown. This year’s rankings were not the easiest as we covered all of Europe’s top teams and top leagues across the continent.

Our six-man panel includes former and current players and coaches and we have carefully reviewed all the teams and games in Europe. You may not agree with all the picks. In fact, we expect and welcome lots of comments and arguments. So please feel free to send in your opinions.

See rankings 25-21 and 20-11 here.

Using the NCAA AP ranking points system, we have arrived at the Top 25 teams in Europe. Today we’ll continue the list by taking a look at the top 10 rankings.

10 – Kuopio Steelers (2022 Record: 14-0)

The Steelers completed their mission of winning the Maple Bowl for the third straight season, led by head coach Pekka Uttrainen. The Steelers had the top offense and defense by a Lapland mile as they cruised to another undefeated season in the Finnish Maple League winning by an average difference of over 33 points.

9: Firenze Guelfi (2022 Record: 9-2)

Under the guidance of head coach Art Briles, the Guelfi returned to the form they had in 2019 when they reached but did not win the Italian Bowl. This time however, the Florence squad took it all the way, avenging their only two regular season losses by beating the Parma Panthers in the semifinals and the Milano Seamen in the title game to capture their first ever Italian championship.

8: Frankfurt Galaxy: (2022 Record: 8-4)

The champions of the ELF’s first season in 2021 took a step back this past season by failing to make the playoffs.  Faced with a challenging division which included the Vienna Vikings and the Tirol Raiders, the Galaxy finished with a record of 8-4, but missed out on the playoffs as the Raiders took the wild card spot via tiebreakerTwo narrow losses against the Rhein Fire in the regular season ultimately became their downfall.

7 – Rhein Fire (2022 Record: 7-5)

The Rhein Fire had an admirable year in their first season of play in the ELF.  Led by former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula. The league leaders in attendance (by a wide margin), the Fire’s season was highlighted by a pair of wins against the Frankfurt Galaxy.  However, a pair of losses against their conference rivals in the Barcelona Dragons kept them out of the playoffs.

6 – Barcelona Dragons (2022 Record: 8-5)

The winners of the ELF’s Southern Conference, the Barcelona Dragons finished the regular season with a record of 8-4 which included impressive wins (like their victory over the Hamburg Sea Devils) and confusing losses (like their loss against the Istanbul Rams).  They were known for their impressive passing attack headlined by the league’s passing leader, Zach Edwards, and the league’s receiving leader and offensive player of the year, Kyle Sweet.

5 – Tirol Raiders (2022 Record 8-5)

In their first year in the ELF, the Austrian franchise made the playoffs as the lone wild card team following an 8-4 regular season.  Led by now-retired MVP quarterback Sean Shelton, the Raiders were a well-rounded team that boasted the league’s second highest scoring offense and a solid defense. 

4 – Potsdam Royals (2022 Record: 12-1)

The Potsdam Royals enjoyed the best season in their history and reached the German Bowl for the first time ever where they lost to the red hot Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. However, up to that point they were the hottest team in the GFL averaging a league-high 51.4 points a game during an unbeaten regular season. They knocked off both the Straubing Spiders and Cologne Crocodiles in the playoffs by a combined 115-46.

3 – Hamburg Sea Devils (2022 Record: 12-2)

The Hamburg Sea Devils followed up an excellent inaugural season in the ELF with a second straight championship game appearance only to fall 27-15 to a Vienna Vikings team filled with playoff and championship experience. During the regular season, Hamburg boasted the best offense, averaging 35.3 points a game, and best defense, allowing just 13.3 points a game, in the league.

2 – Vienna Vikings (2022 Record: 12-2)

In their very first season in the European League of Football, the Vienna Vikings under veteran head coach Chris Calaycay, did not seem to miss a beat after being one of the dominant teams in the Austrian Football League for many years. Despite suffering two inexplicable lopsided regular season losses (to the Frankfurt Galaxy and Wroclaw Panthers) the Vikings were easy winners in their semifinal beating Barcelona 39-12 before disposing of Hamburg in the final.

1: Schwäbisch hall Unicorns (2022 Record: 13-0)

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns capped another dominating season in the German Football League by manhandling the Potsdam Royals in the final to capture the 2022 German Bowl and claim their fifth title since 2011. In the swan song for head coach Jordan Neuman, the Unicorns rolled through the regular season with ease and comfortably swept through the playoffs and downed the previously undefeated Royals 44-27 in the final.

Did your favorite teams make the list? See our rankings 25-21 & 20-11 here.

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