ELF: Playoff clinching scenarios ahead of the final week of season

The end of the regular season in the European League of Football is looming.  With one more week remaining, there will be six games played this weekend, and some are more important than others.  Three teams have already clinched a playoff spot, and in a league with a four-team playoff bracket, there are four teams with a record of 7-4 that are fighting to get into the last spot.  Here is what each team needs to do this weekend to improve their position in the league standings before the playoffs start.

Sea Devils, Vikings and Dragons are in

First of all, there are two teams at 10-1 that are battling for the top overall seed in the league.  The Hamburg Sea Devils have the tiebreaker over the Vienna Vikings, though, so all they need to do this week is win their game against the Barcelona Dragons.  Vienna has to win their game against the Wroclaw Panthers and have the Sea Devils lose in order to take the top seed.  The Dragons are safely in the playoffs at 8-3, as they have clinched the Southern Conference.  They will likely be the third seed in the playoff bracket.

Raiders, Galaxy, Thunder and Fire battling for one spot

The 7-4 Tirol Raiders currently sit in the last playoff spot due to tiebreaking rules in their favor.  The playoff race got very interesting recently after the Raiders lost on Sunday to the Frankfurt Galaxy, another team at 7-4.  However, the Raiders still have the advantage over the Galaxy due to the points differential tiebreaker.  All the Raiders have to do to make the playoffs is win their game on Sunday against the Berlin Thunder.

The Galaxy need to win their game against the 0-11 Stuttgart Surge on Sunday.  As the Surge are easily the worst team in the league, Frankfurt should have no problem in taking care of business.  They also need the Thunder to beat the Raiders in Berlin.  Due to a total points differential tiebreaker, Frankfurt should have the advantage against the Thunder and Fire if each team gets to 8-4.  The Galaxy won the inaugural ELF championship last year, so missing the playoffs this year would be more than disappointing.

Ahead of probably the biggest regular season game of the ELF season, the 7-4 Berlin Thunder have a great challenge in front of them as they are set to host the Tirol Raiders.  Despite having identical records, it is safe to say that the Raiders have been the better team this season, as they have a much better point differential and have faced a harder schedule.  Berlin needs to win their game and hope the Frankfurt Galaxy lose to Stuttgart.  As this is very unlikely, the Thunder’s hopes of making the playoffs are slim.

The Rhein Fire are another team at 7-4 that is still alive, but their chances of sneaking into the playoffs are not great.  They should be able to win their game at home against the 3-8 Leipzig Kings, but they still need a lot of help.  The Fire need the Galaxy to lose to the Surge, and they need the Raiders to lose to the Thunder.  Additionally, they would need to blow out the Kings while the Thunder beat the Raiders in close fashion, because Rhein’s current points differential is 31 points less than Berlin’s.  They could technically pass the Raiders in the point differential race, but they would have to win by a margin of victory of more than 130 points greater than the Raiders‘, so that idea is essentially irrelevant.  It is a long shot for the Fire, but they still have a chance.

The key game to watch this week will be the Raiders vs the Thunder.  A Raiders win will mean they can clinch the last playoff spot, while a Thunder win will mean that the Galaxy will most likely sneak into the postseason.  Either way, we can guarantee that each of the 7-4 teams will be playing their hearts out this weekend.