Austrian Football League regular season recap: All playoff spots secured with two weeks left

With two game weeks remaining, the Austrian Football League playoff teams have been decided and the 2023 regular season is nearing its close.

The Graz Giants, Danube Dragons, Vienna Vikings and Prague Black Panthers will advance to the playoffs and will compete in their final games for seeding, while the other six teams will compete for pride.

Before the playoffs begin, let’s take a look back on each team’s season.

Prague Black Panthers – Record: 8-0 






When we checked in on the Black Panthers in our midseason recap, they were one of two undefeated teams, joined by the Graz Giants. With the Giants taking a loss earlier in the season, Prague is the only undefeated side remaining and currently hold the top seed in the AFL. 

Head coach Spencer Ford has managed to build on an already impressive 2022 campaign which saw the team go 8-3. The addition of standout QB Tyler Jarnagin has been key to this, having put up an impressive 26 touchdowns with just three interceptions, on top of almost 300 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

After a nail biting 23-22 win over Vienna, the Black Panthers will travel to face the Graz Giants, who will have a chance to shake up to seeding.

Graz Giants – Record: 7-1






Under new head coach Michael Mattingly, the Giants have completely flipped a 3-7 2022 season, turning it into an impressive 2023 campaign.

QB Wyatt Smith has been tearing AFL defenses to shreds, leading the league in passing touchdowns (27) while turning the ball over just four times. Julian Kapellari has been his primary target, snagging a league-leading 11 touchdowns. 

The Giants’ one loss came to reigning champions Danube Dragons on June 4th, taking a 24-7 home loss.

Graz will look to upset the one seed this coming weekend as they host the Prague Black Panthers.

Vienna Vikings – Record: 7-2






The 2022 Austrian Bowl runners-up have managed find their way into the playoffs once again, with their only two losses coming to the Graz Giants early on in the season, and the Prague Black Panthers last weekend.

Aside from their losses the Vikings have possibly the most dominant team in Austria, with the most points in the league (346) and five straight blowouts; the smallest margin being 35 points.

Nico Hrouda has led the team through the air, passing for 1607 yards (5th) and 21 touchdowns (4th), but their backfield is where the Vikings have really thrived; Devontae Jordan leads the league with 731 rushing yards and nine touchdowns – on just FIVE appearances. Jordan has averaged a ridiculous 10.2 yards-per-carry.

The Vikings will look to revive their win streak July 1st against Danube, in a rematch of last year’s Austrian Bowl.

Danube Dragons – Record: 7-2






Aside from the undefeated Black Panthers, the Dragons hold the longest active win streak in the AFL (5), with their last defeat coming in week four to the aforementioned Prague side. 

After losing long-time QB Chad Jefferies (Munich Ravens, ELF), the Dragons’ offense has managed to find a new rhythm after struggling at the start of the season. 

While ex-NCAA DI QB Tyquell Fields started off the season for Danube, Alexander Thury has found himself at the helm of the defending champions. Thury is nearing on 1000 yards passing and has thrown 15 touchdowns; he also leads all starting QBs in yards-per-attempt with an impressive 14.6.

After handing Graz their only loss, Danube showcased an impressive 63-0 win over the Tirol Raiders before beating the struggling Telfs Patriots 35-13 last week.

The Dragons will be back in action when they face the Vienna Vikings on July 1st as Vienna push for the third seed.

Salzburg Ducks – Record: 5-4






With nearly the same core roster as last season, the Ducks are having a similar showing to their 4-6 2022 campaign.

Offensively, the Ducks have been putting up big numbers, as they sit third in points scored (300). In week three Salzburg gave the Black Panthers one of their toughest tests as they came away with a 41-34 loss against the undefeated team from Prague.

The Ducks boast the AFL’s leading passer in Kris Denton (2,406 yds), as well as the number two receiver in Cory Jones (831 yds).

Salzburg seems to be the middle ground of the AFL, taking losses to the four playoff teams, while beating every other team fairly convincingly.

July 1st will see the Ducks take on the Mödling Rangers as they look to keep their record above .500.

Mödling Rangers – Record: 4-5






 Much like their 5-5 2022 campaign, Mödling have been a fairly mediocre team, spending another year hovering around the .500 mark.

The Rangers have been solid on the ground, with QB Benjamin Braüer and RB Nicholas Milgate holding the three and four spots in rushing yards (468, 445), with Milgate also tied first for TDs. Milgate has been a key part to both sides of the ball for Mödling, leading the team in total tackles with 41.0.

The Rangers will take on the Ducks on July 1st, with a win for Mödling giving both teams a 5-5 season record.

Telfs Patriots – Record: 2-7 






After a 2022 campaign which saw the Patriots make a playoffs appearance, new head coach Daniel Levy has failed to replicate Telfs’ success this year. 

After losing ex-Stuttgart Surge QB Aaron Ellis to an injury in their first win of the season, Alvaro Fadini took the starting position, passing for just 591 yards and four touchdowns in six appearances. Fadini went on to be replaced by WR Ravon Johnson before Ellis made his return. In Ellis’ first game back he led the Pats to a huge 50-14 win over the Styrian Bears, but that would be their final win up to this point.

 The return of the starting QB allowed Ravon Johnson to shine at his true position, as he currently leads in receiving yards (1025) and touchdowns (11), with an incredible 18.6 yards per reception. 

Last weekend saw the Patriots suffer a 35-13 loss to Danube. They take on the undefeated Black Panthers in their final game, where they are playing for nothing more than pride.

Tirol Swarco Raiders – Record: 2-7






 Although it’s an improvement on last year’s winless season, it would be a stretch to call this season a success for HC Florian Grein, having lost five straight games. 

Despite signing QB CJ Fowler, the Raiders have started three QBs this season. After two starts for the Raiders, Fowler left to return to Poland’s Tychy Falcons, leaving Stefan Maiacher to captain the ship. On May 19th however, the Raiders announced the signing of ex-William and Mary QB Kevin Doyle. In his only game on May 21, Doyle threw for 457 yards and 3 TDs in a 30-23 loss to Salzburg. 

The Raiders went back to Maiacher and to say he has struggled would be an understatement, with a TD:INT ratio of 9:14 with a completion percentage of under 47%.

Defensively, the Raiders have had one bright spot. Defensive back David Stark has been incredible, leading the league with 30 pass breakups on top of four interceptions and 29 solo tackles.

The Raiders will get a shot at another 3-7 season when they take on the winless Styrian Bears as the season closes.

Traun Steelsharks – Record: 2-7 






The Steelsharks have spent another year on the doorstep of relegation after going 3-7 last year. 

Although new QB Slade Jarman has seemed to find his rhythm with Traun, being the third QB to surpass 2000 passing yards, and spreading the ball to two receivers over 600 yards (Doucek, Stockhammer), the 12 interceptions are a clear red flag for the ex-Wroclaw Panthers passer.

Outside of some big passing numbers, the Steelsharks truly have nothing going for them on offense; they are still without a 100-yard season rusher in terms of net yards, with just two rushing scores coming from people not named Slade Jarman.

Traun will play the 7-1 Graz Giants in their final game of the season in two weeks.

Styrian Bears – Record: 0-9






 The newly promoted Bears are showing the difference in levels between AFL2 and the top division, with new head coach Martin Kocian failing to take the Bears anywhere near a win, with the closest they’ve come being a 36-21 defeat to the Rangers.

This game was also the least they have conceded and the most they have scored in a single contest all year. Averaging a score of 11-48, it will be of no surprise that the Bears are heading straight back down after one season in the AFL. 

One positive is that Martin Wallensteiner and Simon Maggauer hold the one and two spot for two tackles, but that’s bound to happen when your defense spends as much time on the field as the Bears defense.

They will be looking for their first and last win of the season as they travel to play the Tirol Raiders on July 1st in Innsbrück.

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.