ELF: Week 6 Power Rankings – Top remains stable while former favorites slide

Week 6 in the European League of Football (ELF) proved to be an exciting weekend of football as many of the games were decided by just one score. As a result, some teams have risen whilst others have fallen in the AFI ELF power rankings.

1. Rhein Fire

Despite a small scare early in the game against the Munich Ravens last weekend, the Fire are continuing to dominate week in, week out. Their star-studded roster has also just got a little bit deeper with the signing of Montana State (NCAA, DI) wideout, Willie Patterson.

The Fire has been able to succeed at every level of the game consistently. They have demolished good and bad teams alike. At this point in the year, it is hard to see where a challenge will come from in the regular season.

2. Vienna Vikings

Against a solid Raiders Tirol team this past weekend, the Vikings showed what they were truly about: great defense and opportunistic offense. Rarely is quarterback Chris Helbig asked to push the boat out, but he is executing with deadly efficiency. On just 15 completions, Helbig managed 213 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders, leading to a 34–13 victory.

Head Coach Chris Calacay has once again put together a winning formula. Similarly to the Fire, the Vikings are unlikely to face any real problems on their way to the postseason this year.

3. Stuttgart Surge

The best way to describe the Surge is winners. Through a number of close games the Surge have remained unbeaten in their first year under the tutelage of Head Coach Jordan Neuman, destroying their all-time franchise win record in the ELF

The change from American quarterback Reilly Hennessey to German Jan Weinreich has not slowed the beast in the slightest. Scheme is the name of the game for the Surge who have managed to shut down every offensive weapon they have played so far.

The Surge have a tough schedule ahead of them so will be well prepared for the postseason when it finally arrives.

4. Frankfurt Galaxy

When long-time quarterback Jakeb Sullivan was placed on injured reserve following the Week 2 contest against the Rhein Fire, the Galaxy’s prospects looked bleak. However, the team has yet to miss a beat with former Frankfurt Universe quarterback Steven Cluley at the helm. Cluley’s time is now over and Sullivan is expected to play this weekend against the Sea Devils.

What Sullivan’s absence has shown is that despite his overwhelming success in the league over the last two years, the Galaxy are not reliant on him to be a winning team. They still have one of the best defenses in the league and a significant amount of German depth on the offensive side of the ball. They may be a step or two down from the likes of Fire and Vienna, but don’t be surprised if they make a play for the championship now that Sullivan is back in the fold and fully fit.

5. Berlin Thunder

Berlin are a play or two away from being in the highest tier of football in Europe. They went toe to toe with Vienna in Week 2 and have obliterated the Leipzig Kings and Feherver Entrhoners. They have two-time Defensive MVP Kyle Kitchens in top form and one of the most talented receiving rooms in the league. 

However, the Thunder have struggled to put it all together. Quarterback Donovan Isom has been plagued with a number of injuries since opening week and has since been replaced with Slade Jarman who is yet to play against decent competition.

They will likely bring their record to 5–3 after the Prague Lions game this weekend, but it will be their Week 8 rematch with the Vikings that will determine whether they deserve to be put in the category of an elite ELF team.

6. Raiders Tirol

Last week, the Raiders showed us that they do not belong in the highest echelon of ELF teams, at least for now, as they were trounced by the Vikings at home. While the Raiders have consistently been a good team throughout their two years in the ELF, their Austrian rivals have proven to be their kryptonite, as Vienna now has beaten them all three times they have played.

Now at 4–2, the Raiders are still in good position to make the playoffs as a wild card team, but a win later on against the undefeated Vikings or Surge would go a long way to show that they have a legitimate chance at the championship.

7. Hamburg Sea Devils

The Sea Devils are no doubt a talented team, as their past two appearances in the championship game would suggest. However, they have a mediocre record of 3–3, thanks to some close losses that surely left the team disappointed. In the offseason, while we acknowledged they improved as a team (namely in the acquisition of quarterback Preston Haire), we also said that other teams in their conference improved even more than they did, and that has been reflected in the first half of this season.

On Sunday, they travel to Frankfurt for a huge clash with the Galaxy. The difference between a record of 3–4 and 4–3 is very significant in such a short season, so this is close to being a must-win game for Hamburg if they want to make it back to the playoffs.

8. Munich Ravens

It’s painful to put the Ravens this low on the list after they stuck it to the Fire in the first half of last weekend’s contest. But that has been the story with Munich all season: one of the most dangerous first-half teams, followed by a second-half breakdown.

Wideout Markell Castle has been Chad Jeffries favorite (and nearly only) target so far. He is currently leading the league with 740 yards and seven touchdowns and will likely end as the season’s top receiver.

However, if the Ravens want to start beating good teams, which they can, they need to diversify their offensive production as relying on too few players to do everything results in fatigue come the second half.

9. Wroclaw Panthers

With low expectations coming into the season, the Panthers have been a feel-good story as they have gotten off to an impressive 4–2 start. Even though they were signed just weeks before this season kicked off, quarterback Matthew Vitale and receiver Tony Tate have taken the league by storm, practically carrying the team to wins.

Unfortunately, the team announced that Vitale has been placed on injured reserve, which is a tough break for both player and team. Wroclaw signed American Mak Sexton as his replacement, and it is always tough to say how an import will perform with a new team once he joins them midway through the season. To make matters worse, the Panthers face the Vikings on the road this week.

10. Paris Musketeers

The Musketeers have had possibly the polar opposite experience of the Panthers. Coming into this year with sky-high expectations, the Musketeers have massively underperformed and found themselves on the lower end of the rankings.

Paris are coming off an offensively poor performance against the Surge, seeing Zach Edwards throw three interceptions while receiving very little help in the run game. The Musketeers have had bright spots within their offense, however, with Florian Larose shining in recent weeks, recording 10 receptions for 136 yards and Paris’ only score in week six. 

Despite the signing of former CFL lineman Keanu Ebanks, the Paris squad has still struggled massively up front, allowing Edwards to maintain his reputation of being the most sacked QB in the league. Unfortunately for the Musketeers, this is unlikely to stop in week seven as they host the undefeated Rhein Fire.

11. Barcelona Dragons

After a red-hot start, the Dragons seemed to have regressed slightly, losing three straight games, the last of which coming to the previously-winless Helvetic Guards.

Conor Miller remains in the top two in the ELF for both passing yards and touchdowns (1676, 13), while Theo Lanström sits third in receiving touchdowns (7) and sixth in yards (557). However, this is where the positives end based on the Dragons’ recent weeks. Barcelona has had next-to-no run game, with their leading rusher in Eduard Molima recording just shy of 140 yards in his five games – the second lowest of any starting running back.

The Dragons will host the Raiders this weekend in the return feature of their week three matchup – a game the Dragons walked away from with a 29-13 loss.

12. Milano Seamen

Over their last two games, Milano have struggled defensively to say the least. Their week six matchup against Frankfurt saw a whole lot of bad matchups, bad play calling and just generally bad defensive play.

Against the Galaxy and Raiders, the Seamen have conceded nearly 80 points and allowed just shy of 1,000 yards, making their past two games a stretch to forget. They rank fourth in points allowed, which is not a leaderboard you want to be seen on. 

While their offense has been consistently putting up points, almost bailing out their poor defensive performance against Frankfurt by scoring 33 points, Milano holds the worst turnover margin in the league at -8. Quarterback Luke Zahradka has solidified his status as a gunslinger, maintaining top-five status in terms of yards and touchdowns, while simultaneously leading in interceptions and holding the worst completion percentage of any starting quarterback (min. three starts).

The Seamen will look to pick up their second win of the season as they head to Germany to face the Munich Ravens this weekend.

13. Cologne Centurions

Cologne started off the season with a close loss to the Musketeers and a hard-fought win over the Lions, but that’s really as good as it’s been for the 1-4 Centurions. After beginning their season with Dylan Jacob under center, Cologne brought in Judd Erickson to take his place in order to add some spark to the offense. Erickson did no such thing, passing for one touchdown and four interceptions in his two starts.

Thanks to the cancellation of the Leipzig Kings game scheduled for this weekend, the Centurions will add a second win to their total as well as being given an extra week to think about losing to the Rhein Fire in week eight.

14. Leipzig Kings*

We all know it is over for the Kings. They officially announced their folding after two canceled games in a row. However, unlike the Istanbul Rams last year, they are not the worst team in the league, making their departure even more heartbreaking.

The Kings were never going to win a championship, but they have been offering up fans grit and determination since they entered the league two and a half years ago. This should be recognised.

All-star linebacker AJ Wentland chose to stay with the Kings this past offseason, despite having countless offers to play elsewhere. This should show you something about the team. There are a number of studs on the defense too who will likely find homes well before the season is over.

The Kings have left the league in an ugly way but their final appearance in the power rankings should not be ignored.

15. Helvetic Guards

The Helvetic Guards treated their fans to maybe one of the best games of the 2023 season so far as they defeated the Barcelona Dragons in overtime. Head Coach Norm Chow relied on key players like Silas Nacita, Maceo Beard, and newly signed quarterback Skylar Noble to make key plays as the Guards weathered a back-and-forth game to earn them the first win of the year. Things are certainly looking up in Zurich as Noble and an improving defense have now shown they are not a team to be overlooked.

16. Prague Lions

The Prague Lions recently revamped their roster, signing 6 ‘9 former Nevada (NCAA, DI) quarterback Nate Cox, as well as British running back Samuel Oram-Jones. The Lions played well in their last outing as running back Adam Zouzelka was back from an injury, rushing for over 100 yards. Zouzelka and an improved Lions defense took the playoff contenders down to the wire as they narrowly lost 29–23 against the Wroclaw Panthers in Poland.

17. Fehervar Enthroners

The Enthroners had another tough outing last week, losing 60–6 to the Berlin Thunder. New quarterback Kevin Doyle Jr debuted as they continue to look for positives in all three phases of the game. The biggest positive of the weekend in Fehervar was that the Enthroners will be given a win later this season as the Leipzig Kings have folded. This lets the Enthroners avoid an ugly winless 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.