ELF: 5 takeaways from final week of regular season

As the final week of the regular season draws to an end, so does the road for most of the teams in the European League of Football (ELF).

The final weekend of football offered some exciting games and surprising scorelines from which we have extracted a list of five key takeaways.

1. The playoffs are set and fast approaching

The final weekend of regular season football in ELF was a tale of two halves with some fixtures proving to be highly competitive, while others were absolute blowouts.

But the playoffs are set and without even a week’s break the four teams that will now enter the knockout stages are the Hamburg Sea Devils, Tirol Raiders, Barcelona Dragons and Vienna Vikings.

2. Are the Wroclaw Panthers in fact the best team in the league?!

Absolutely not. But their 42-6 victory over the Vikings without any context would make you think so. The Vikings were obviously sitting a number of their starters with their playoff spot already locked up.

This does beg the unanswerable question though. Do you rest your players for the playoffs or fine tune them in preparation for the knockout stages?

3. The NFL IPP will feature 12 active players from ELF this year

This year, the NFL’s International Pathway Program (IPP) will see 12 players (13 if you include Tyrese Johnson Fisher who was cut from the Istanbul Rams earlier in the year) from this year’s ELF season.

Two fewer than last year, this shows the shift that the IPP program is trying to make towards big bodied athletes regardless of playing experience. 11 of the 44 invitees are from Nigeria’s Uprise Academy where football experience is minimal but large bodies are in abundance.

4. Kyle Sweet is going to be a problem postseason

The final numbers for Kyle Sweet for his first year in Europe are 115 receptions, 1,561 yards and 17 touchdowns.  They are head and shoulders above everyone else in the league and he will certainly be the Viking’s biggest problem come Sunday.

5. ELF has grown exponentially from its first year to its second

Player testimonies, on-field performance and production has shown this year that the ELF has significantly grown since last year.

Key milestones such as capturing 6% of the German television market share during a regular season game and the Rhein Fire v Frankfurt Galaxy contest boasting attendance of 12,000 strong shows that this is no longer a sport played in the backwaters of Europe, but instead a legitimate sporting institution.

Doubters from a year ago (including myself) will be nothing but overjoyed if ELF continues on this trajectory. The future for the sport on the European continent looks brighter than ever. Congratulations go to the European League of Football for its second season.

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.