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

The AFI team is proud to present our 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 six-man panel includes former and current players and coaches, and we have carefully reviewed all European teams and games.

The list features eight teams from the European League of Football followed by seven teams from the German Football League. The French FFA Elite and Italian Football League had two teams while the Swiss NAL, Swedish Superserien, Finnish Maple League, Austrian Football league, Hungarian Football League, and Czech league, each had one team featured.

When looking at the rankings by country, we see Germany dominating the field with 11 teams, with Austria at a distant second with three.  Followed by two French teams and two Italian teams. Switzerland, Finland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, and Sweden each had one team represented.

Honorable Mention: The Danish champion Copenhagen Towers, the Finnish runner ups Seinäjoki Crocodiles, the Polish champions Bialystok Lowanders,  the Parma Panthers of Italy and the Leipzig Kings of the ELF also received votes, however, fell just short of the top 25 list.

25 – Thonon Black Panthers (2022 Record: 10-2)

The Thonon Black Panthers were runner ups in the FFFA Elite in France, falling to La Courneuve Flash in a hard fought Casque de Diamant (Diamond Helmet) French Championship game. The Black Panthers dominated most of their opponents in the French league with the only exception being their rivals in La Courneuve Flash and a strong Marseille Blue Stars team.

24 – Bern Grizzlies (2022 Record: 10-0)

The Bern Grizzlies took home the Swiss Bowl this year, knocking off the Calanda Broncos. The Grizzlies took care of business in Switzerland defeating the former champion Broncos three times, sweeping a impressive opponent and bitter rival. They did so while managing to dominate the rest of the Swiss NLA blowing out once formidable opponents.

23 – Prague Lions (2022 Record: 11-1)

One of the ELF’s expansion teams, the Prague Lions were once again champions of their home league winning the Czech Bowl behind a dominant offense averaging over 49 points a game and a stifling defense holding opponents under 18 points per contest. In international play, the Lions defeated Poland’s Tychy Falcons and Vysočina Gladiators before falling to the Fehérvár Enthroners in the CEFL Cup, suffering their one and only loss of the season.

22 – Allgäu Comets (2022 Record: 7-4)

The Allgäu Comets season featured an impressive playoff win in Braunschweig as the Comets beat the New Yorker Lions on the road to advance to the German Football League’s semifinals. Allgäu also played well against the Munich Cowboys losing by one point and handled their business in the GFL south beating the Ravensburg Razorbacks and Saarland Hurricanes.

21 – Fehérvár Enthroners (2022 Record: 16-0)

The Fehérvár Enthroners did something perhaps never done before in Europe winning three titles in one season. At home, they retook the throne in Hungary winning the Hungarian Bowl over the Budapest Wolves who had beaten them in the title game the year prior. After a dominant season in the Hungarian Football League the Enthroners played well internationally defeating the Kragujevac Wild Boars and PragueLions to win the the CEFL Cup. At the same time Enthroners competed in Austria’s second division going undefeated there and winning their third title of an undefeated gauntlet of a season. Now the Enthroners look to compete in the European League of Football as one of its four new teams in 2023.

20 – Munich Cowboys (2022 Record: 8-2-1)

Munich finished second in the GFL South and lost a nail-biter 31-34 to the Cologne Crocodiles in the first round of the playoffs. The Cowboys finished the regular season with an impressive record as Nadine Nuraysid was named GFL Coach of the Year.

19 – Berlin Adler (2022 Record: 6-5)

The Adler qualified for the GFL playoffs, finishing fourth in the tough GFL North behind the leadership of head coach Shuan Fatah. The Adler had impressive wins against the Dresden Monarchs and Cologne Crocodiles and gave the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns one of their closest games all season in the playoffs.

18 – Braunschweig New Yorker Lions (2022 Record: 6-5)

Injuries held back a talented Lions squad this year as both Jacob Parks and GFL legend Casey Therriault played behind center for coach Troy Tomlin this summer. Impressive wins included sweeping the defending champion Dresden Monarchs and beating the Berlin Adler and Cologne Crocodiles.

17 – Vienna Danube Dragons (2022 Record: 13-1)

The Dragons lost a head coach and multiple domestic and import players this year. Despite the tumultuous season, Danube hoisted their first ever Austrian Bowl trophy this year with the help of long-time Dragon quarterback, Chad Jeffries. Their ability to fight through adversity and remain malleable was undoubtedly what led to them being the most dominant team in the Austrian domestic league.

16 – Stockholm Mean Machines (2022 Record: 12-0)

Led by new quarterback Mark Pappas, the Mean Machines went unbeaten in 2022, taking home the Swedish Championship dominating all opponents during the short Superserien season while also comfortably handling the teams in the Scandinavian Cup. Stockholm downed the Norwegian champion Oslo Vikings on the way to hoisting the first annual Scandinavian Cup. 

15: Wroclaw Panthers: (2022 Record: 5-7)

Wroclaw’s record wasn’t amazing; However, the team was still loaded with both import and domestic talent. The Panthers played well against some of best teams in Europe losing to the Frankfurt Galaxy (29-30) and Hamburg Sea Devils (23-26) by razor thin margins. Injuries also played a role in the underwhelming record as they seemed to be just a play or two away in many games.

14 – Cologne Crocodiles (2022 Record: 8-4)

The Cologne Crocodiles rode one the GFL’s top offenses to an impressive record and a semifinals appearance. The Crocodiles earned wins against solid teams in the Munich Cowboys, New Yorker Lions, and Dresden MonarchsCologne advanced to the German Football League semifinals defeating the Munich Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs, before falling to the Potsdam Royals.

13 – Berlin Thunder (2022 Record: 7-5)

Simply put, the Thunder were one of the best teams in the ELF to not make the playoffs right behind the Frankfurt GalaxyBerlin had the third best defense statistically which paired well with a run first offense. They were able to notch big wins against Wroclaw PanthersLeipzig Kings, and Cologne Centurions. However, they were beaten handily by the Hamburg Sea Devils and Tirol Raiders.

12 – La Courneuve Flash (2022 Record 13-2)

The La Courneuve Flash were without a doubt the best team in France in 2022.  After a 9-1 regular season in league play, they won the FFFA title by defeating the Thononlesbains Black Panthers in the championship game.  They put up a fight against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in CEFL competition as well.  Unfortunately, questions have risen about their future with the birth of the Paris Football Team in the ELF

11 – Milano Seamen (2022 Record: 9-1)

The Milano Seamen have been Italy’s premier team for the better part of the decade showcasing high quality youth development and a professional approach to the game. They have won five of the last eight Italian Bowls and will rightly take their place in Europe’s best league, the European League of Football in 2023.

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 tiebreaker.  Two 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: 16-0)

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.

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