ELF: Playoff outlook ahead of the final week of the regular season

Week 14 is the last week of the regular season in the European League of Football, and the playoffs are right around the corner.  There are six playoff spots in the bracket, and four of those have already been clinched.  That leaves two playoff berths still up for grabs, and these will be decided by Sunday evening.  Let us take a look at the teams fighting for these spots.

As of now, the Berlin Thunder hold the 5th seed with a record of 7-4.  All they need to clinch a playoff berth is a win at home against the 4-7 Hamburg Sea Devils on Sunday.  Though Hamburg may not have a good record, they are no pushover, as they have a talented squad that made the league championship game in each of the past two seasons.  In fact, Hamburg beat Berlin in their last meeting by a score of 37-17.  Though Berlin has home-field advantage this time around, they will have to be at their best on Sunday to take down the Sea Devils.  Even if they were to lose, though, they could still sneak into the playoffs with some help from around the league.

The last playoff spot is currently held by the Wroclaw Panthers, who sit at 7-4 as well.  They picked up a huge win last weekend against Berlin, which allowed them to stay in prime position for a playoff spot.  Like the Thunder, all they need to do to clinch a playoff spot is win on Sunday.  They go on the road to face a Fehervar Enthroners team that is far below them in the standings.  Last week, it would have been assumed that the Panthers would easily be able to walk over the Hungarian team, but after the Enthroners pushed the undefeated Vienna Vikings to the brink, that is not a sure thing anymore.  Still, though, the Panthers will be favored to get the win, but they will have to do it in hostile territory.

The Raiders Tirol also sit at 7-4 as well, but they are currently on the outside of the playoff picture.  They should be able to take care of business on the road against the 2-9 Milano Seamen on Saturday, but, even with a win, they would need some help to make the playoffs.  They will be anxiously waiting on Sunday to see if the Thunder or the Panthers lose.  Both of those teams could feasibly lose their game, so it is fair to say the Raiders still have a decent shot of making the playoffs.

At 6-5, the Munich Ravens are technically still alive, but they would need a miracle to make it in.  For one, they would need to beat the Barcelona Dragons (which is a probable outcome), and then have at least two of the aforementioned teams lose their games.  They would also likely have to score an absurd number of points against Barcelona, potentially in the triple digits, due to a points differential tiebreaker rule.  Unfortunately for them, their playoff hopes are almost certainly already over.

There are also some playoff seeding implications among teams that have already clinched in the game that sees the 10-1 Frankfurt Galaxy host the 11-0 Rhein Fire on Sunday.  If the Fire win, they will keep the top seed in the playoff bracket, but could lose it with a loss, as the Vienna Vikings would steal it from them.  If the Galaxy were to beat the Fire by at least 25 points, they would steal the Western Conference crown from them and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.  However, given the Fire’s dominance all season, it is hard to imagine that happening.

With all that said, let us all enjoy the action in the last weekend of the regular season.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.