ELF: Berlin Thunder need win over Istanbul Rams to stay in playoff contention

This week in the European League of Football, the Berlin Thunder travel all the way to Turkey for a matchup with the Istanbul Rams on Saturday.  At 6-4, the Thunder are one of four teams chasing the last spot in the playoffs, while the 1-9 Rams are looking to play spoiler at home.

The Thunder entered last week at 6-3 and in good position in the wild card hunt, but their matchup against the top-ranked Hamburg Sea Devils did not go well for the team from Berlin, as they suffered a 39-17 defeat.  The total yardage from that game was actually pretty much even, as Berlin outgained Hamburg 317-316.  The deciding factor was turnovers, though, as the Thunder had a string of costly mistakes in the first half, including an interception on their first drive, a blocked field goal, and multiple fumbles.  As a result, Hamburg jumped out to a 27-0 lead, and Berlin was not able to get back in the game.  Now, the Thunder are one of three 6-4 teams that are chasing the 7-3 Tirol Raiders for the lone wild card spot in the playoffs.  In order to stay in the hunt, they have to win a game that could be more challenging than it seems on the surface.

Though the Rams have been out of playoff contention for a long time, they have recently proven that they should not be taken lightly.  The Rams had gone winless to start the season, losing their first six games (many of which were blowouts).  However, in week 8, they shocked the ELF by winning their first game against the Barcelona Dragons, a team that has since clinched their division and a spot in the playoffs, by a score of 22-19.  The next week, they traveled to Hamburg and nearly pulled off another huge upset, but ultimately lost 29-26 to the Sea Devils.  While they have not yet won a second game, the Rams have shown that they are no longer pushovers.  The key to their resurgence has been the addition of quarterback Isaiah Green, a dynamic athlete who can burn defenses with his arm or with his legs.  With just two games left in their season, the Rams will be looking to go out on a high note.

As the season winds down, each game for teams still in the hunt is absolutely critical.  Can the Thunder take down the Rams and keep their season alive?  We will find out Saturday.