ELF: Playoffs are looming – Who’s in, who’s out and who still has a chance?

Each team in the European League of Football has played nine games to this point, and there are three weeks remaining in the regular season. With the playoffs quickly approaching, let’s take a look at the teams in the hunt and what they can do to secure a spot.

First, it is important to understand how the playoff system works. In the ELF, there are three conferences, each made up of four teams. There are four teams that make the playoffs: all of
the division winners, and the best team by record that finished in second place in their division.

The playoff teams are seeded 1 through 4. The top seed hosts the fourth seed, and the second seed hosts the third seed. The winners will then meet up for the championship game in
Klagenfurt, Austria on September 25th.

For determining the seeding of playoff teams, division rivals, or teams with the same record looking to be the “wild card” team, the tiebreaking system is as follows (listed from first to last): number of wins; head-to-head matchup; points difference in head-to-head matchups; points scored at away games of head-to-head matchups; total points difference; total points scored; points scored at away games; and finally a coin toss.

Five teams have already been eliminated: the Wroclaw Panthers, Leipzig Kings, Stuttgart Surge, Cologne Centurions, and Istanbul Rams. Thus, there are seven teams still alive. Here is a breakdown of each team’s outlook.

In the Northern Conference, the Hamburg Sea Devils lead the way at 8-1. Arguably the best team in the league this year and winners of seven straight games, the Sea Devils’ playoff chances are looking great. Barring a total collapse, they will be in the playoffs, likely through winning their division. If they win their next game against the Berlin Thunder, they will clinch the division and a playoff spot. If they don’t, they will likely just have to beat one of the Wroclaw Panthers or Barcelona Dragons to get in.

The Berlin Thunder are in second place in the Northern Conference with a record of 6-3. It is unlikely that they can overtake the Sea Devils, but they still have hopes for the wild card spot. They will host the Sea Devils this week on Sunday in a crucial game. After that, they travel to take on the Istanbul Rams, before finally hosting the Tirol Raiders. That last game has the potential to decide which team will be the wild card in the playoffs.

The Central Conference has three teams that are still alive. The Vienna Vikings sit at the top at 8-1. They were undefeated until this past week before tripping up against their division rivals in the Frankfurt Galaxy. Still, they are in good shape, leading the division by two games. They just have to win one of the next three games to clinch the division, which should be fairly easy for them to do.

The Tirol Raiders sit behind the Vikings at 6-3. They will probably win their game this week against the 2-7 Cologne Centurions, but they have two crucial games after that to end the season. The first is a meeting with the Galaxy in a game in which the loser could be eliminated.

After that, they travel to Berlin to take on the Thunder who are also 6-3 now. It will be very interesting to follow this team the rest of the way.

The Frankfurt Galaxy, who are the defending league champions, are in third place in a stacked division at 6-3. Recently, they have been on a hot streak, winning their last four games, including a big upset over the Vikings last week in blowout fashion. They take on the Rhein Fire next week in an important game before a huge clash with the Raiders. If they can remain alive after that, they will have an easy chance to get a win in the last week of the season when they host the winless Stuttgart Surge.

The Barcelona Dragons are in very good shape, leading the Southern Conference at 7-2. They take on the lowly Surge this week on the road. If they can win that matchup, which they probably will, they will clinch the Southern Conference title. All they have to do is win one of the last three games to make the playoffs.

The Rhein Fire have the slimmest hopes of any team still alive, with a record of 5-4. However, there is a chance they can sneak into the playoffs. First, they need to win next week against the Frankfurt Galaxy. After that, they have games against the Centurions and Kings, teams that have already been eliminated. If they can win all three of their remaining games, the Fire stand a chance of advancing.

Though the division leaders (Sea Devils, Vikings, Dragons) are all likely to remain on top and advance into the playoffs, the wild card race is quite exciting and unpredictable. With four teams at 6-3 and another at 5-4, there is a very tight and intense battle for the final spot in the postseason. It will be very exciting to watch the big games down the stretch and see who
makes the playoffs.

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.