ELF: European League of Football Week 5 Preview & Predictions

Well, week four was a wash for me. After two straight weeks of going 7-1 in my predictions, week four ended for me with a .500 record. There were several surprises in week four and some major developments announced heading into week five that could shake up the entire the season. But before we talk about the news, let’s dive into the predictions for week five of European League of Football games.

Cologne Centurions(1-3) v. Frankfurt Galaxy(2-1)

Last week, both Cologne and Frankfurt featured new QBs. The Centurions signed Judd Erickson and the Galaxy brought Steve Cluley into the mix. The results were much different for the two American imports. Cologne never left the starting gate, as they played the best team in the league, while Frankfurt didn’t look like they missed a beat. One of upset predictions, that failed me, Cluley looked like he had been with Frankfurt all season, leading them to a convincing win over the Paris Musketeers. Cologne was shut out at home. Erickson and company look to rebound this week against one of the stronger teams in the league.

Prediction: Erickson has a better game; Frankfurt is too much. Frankfurt 42-17

Helvetic Guards(0-4) v. Rhein Fire(4-0)

Through four weeks, nothing has gone right for the Guards. After bringing in Jordan Barlow, the Guards thought they had their QB situation sorted out, but Barlow had an on field incident that resulted him getting expelled from the league. So, once again, heading into week five, the Guards are going to have a new QB under center, and as of this writing, there has been no official word on who is taking the reigns. To compound this and make things worse, the Guards have to face the best team in the league and they’re on the road. The Fire look unstoppable through four weeks and now they get to feast on a wounded Guards expansion team that hasn’t had anything go right for them. With how the season has progressed with the amount of uncompetitive games, I don’t expect this game to surprise anyone watching.

Prediction: Guards’ season woes continue; Fire continue impressing. Rhein 54-9

Hamburg Sea Devils(2-2) v. Paris Musketeers(1-3)

For weeks now the Sea Devils have looked like they’re a legitimate team waiting to break through that ceiling. They contended with the Fire in week two and beat an impressive Berlin Thunder team last week, albeit an injury to Thunder QB Donovan Isom played a role. This week, they travel to the struggling Musketeers in Paris. Zach Edwards continues to receive little to no protection from his offensive line, which is disrupting the offense’s rhythm and they can’t seem to get in sync. The Musketeers still have time to turn this around, but failing to win last week which was prime upset territory, the confidence in this squad could be running low. The Sea Devils are making a legitimate case at being a playoff team for 2023. but they need make sure they’re on upset alert heading into this game. A trap game right now would be devastating to Hamburg moving forward.

Prediction: Paris’ OL improves, but falls short; Hamburg escapes a close game. Hamburg 32-28

Berlin Thunder(2-2) v. Leipzig Kings(2-2)

Prior to Wednesday, this game was one of the most intriguing on the game slate. QB Donovan Isom, for the Thunder, was placed on IR and the team signed QB Slade Jarman. Jarman played 8 games for the Panthers Wroclaw in 2022. But that’s not the reason that this game has lost some of it’s intrigue. A press conference held by the Kings suggested that this week could be the last game for the franchise in 2023. The future looks bleak for the Kings, but they plan on playing this weekend. It’ll be a home game and emotions are going to be running high. The Kings offense has struggled this season, but the defense has been one of the better units in the league. The Thunder, going through a QB transition, sets them up for a possible upset. Whatever the future holds for the Kings franchise, look for them to play with high emotions this game.

Prediction: Emotions finally give way; Thunder escape an ugly game. Berlin 24-18

Author’s Note: I wish Leipzig the best in the future and I certainly hope they’re able to figure out a way to finish out the 2023 season. It’s a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved and I hate seeing it. I certainly hope this weekend clears the path for them so they’re not forced to withdraw from the league.

Stuttgart Surge(3-0) v. Munich Ravens(2-1)

For the second straight week, the hyped up Surge get the honors of the game of the week. On paper last week, it looked like the Surge and Raiders were going to create fireworks. They didn’t. Instead we got a defensive slugfest that resulted in very little offensive fireworks. On the other hand, the Munich Ravens have started to look like a team to keep an eye on and they’re offense has exploded onto the scene. Munich unloaded 39 points against a Barcelona team, that appeared to be a possible playoff team, while they’re defense held the Dragons to just 15 points. The Ravens biggest issue has been the secondary and they looked to patch a good chunk of that up last week. The Surge on the other hand have signed QB Jan Weinreich to replace injured Reilly Hennessey. A QB transition is always a tricky thing to handle heading into a week and Weinreich admits to being “only 80% healthy.” It could spell disaster for Stuttgart.

Prediction: Upset alert! The Surge fall, but the hype remains. Munich 33-24

Milano Seamen(1-2) v. Raiders Tirol(3-1)

The Seamen exploded on the lowly Guards last week, leading them to shutting out Helvetic, while scoring 32 points. Milano is looking to catch a hot run here to stay within striking distance of the top of the conference. While the Raiders were in a defensive battle last week with one of the better teams in the league. Trap games don’t seem to carry the same weight in the ELF, but when it comes to football, everything is still possible, no matter the league. I wouldn’t say that the Raiders are on upset alert, but the Raiders need to stay on their toes because it’s the nature of the beast. The Seamen should study what the Surge did last week and do everything in their power to duplicate the success. It’s just unlikely because it’s unlikely that the Seamen are as talented as the Surge.

Prediction: Milano keeps pace for a while, falters late; Raiders offense is back. Raiders 37-26

Prague Lions(0-3) v. Panthers Wroclaw(3-1)

Unfortunately for the Lions, the 2023 season doesn’t get easier on the way to the Championship. It’s even more difficult for expansion teams and Prague is finding that out the hard way. While 2023 hasn’t been what they were hoping, they’ve had bright spots. The defense has been pretty solid and Shazzon Mumphrey has had his moments of brightness. Unfortunately, they’re usually surrounded with some inconsistent play and protection from the OL. The Panthers, meanwhile, keep on moving the ball down the field in chunk plays. The combination of Matthew Vitale and Tony Tate is proving to be as deadly as the Strong/McClam, of the Raiders Tirol, and Jeffries/Castle, of the Munich Ravens. If the Lions can’t find a way to pressure Vitale and keep him uncomfortable in the pocket, it’s going to be a long day for the secondary.

Prediction: Vitale/Tate stay hot; Lions struggle to keep pace. Panthers 43-16

Vienna Vikings(3-0) v. Fehervar Enthroners(0-4)

Another game on paper that appears to be completely lopsided, well, to be honest because it is, the Vikings travel to Fehervar to take on the Enthroners. It’s been a long four games for Fehervar already, and it’s about to be a long week five. Fehervar didn’t bring a QB onto the roster, so they’re likely rolling out Mate Hegedus for the second straight week. The defending champions, on the other hand, look to continue their run through the league on their quest for another championship. Unfortunately for the Enthroners and Mate Hegedus, this could be the longest day of their professional playing careers.

Prediction: It’s not competitive, unfortunately. Vienna 56-7

Blowouts have become a common theme for the 2023 season and it’s making it difficult to enjoy games, so in the rare cases we get a competitive game like we did between the Raiders and Surge last week, it helps us forget that a majority of the games aren’t that close. With six expansion teams, we knew that we’d have unbalance games, but this is becoming all too common for the 2023 season. Hopefully for the rest of the year, we’ll see these games balance a bit more, especially among the top teams in the league.

~Michael Washington

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