After 23 rounds of one of the craziest, unpredictable seasons of AFL, it will end for 10 teams this weekend. Last week saw the top 4 battle it out, with their games being separated by 1 and 6 points in nail-biters. The Bulldogs soared into 8th place with an impressive performance against GWS. Strangely for a brief period Adelaide were back in the 8 despite losing by over 60 points, this was thanks to Big Ben Brown kicking the first bag of 10 for the year and North smashing the Power by 86 points. Essendon booked their finals spot, while Hawthorn kept their slim finals hopes alive. There are 7 games this week that could have finals implications, lets have a look at a few.
This week kicks off with Collingwood vs Essendon, old time foes both looking to improve their positions. The Pies still a chance to secure a top 4 spot, and the bombers a chance to climb to 6th and host a final and there is a chance that this be a week 1 finals match-up. Essendon might be good value here as Collingwood’s injury list keeps growing, with Steele Sidebottom missing this week with every man’s worst nightmare; a ruptured testicle. Can the Pies win and put pressure on the Tigers and the Eagles in the race for the top 4 or can the Bombers give themselves a chance at a home final?
The top 4 spots are all still to be decided with no teams locked into position just yet. Brisbane travel to the MCG on Sunday knowing a win will lock up top spot on the ladder, while a loss can see them drop to fourth. They play the Tigers who edged out the Eagles last week to cement themselves as premiership favourites and the Tigers, if results go their way, could also grab top spot. The Cats and the Eagles who are also fighting for a home final, play hosts to the Blues and Hawks. The Teague revolution at the Blues has led them on a great run since he took over and has the Blues fans anticipating the 2020 AFL season, but not many teams go to the Cattery and win. The Cats need to put in a strong performance as the 2nd half of the season has been a disappointment.
Hawthorn travel to Perth this week to take on the reigning premiers and the Hawks play before each of the Bulldogs, Crows and Power so can really put the pressure on and be sat in 8th come Saturday night. it will be a tough task to travel to Perth and win, especially with the Eagles also needing a result to crack the top 2 meaning they don’t have to potentially travel until the Grand Final.
It’s simple for the Bulldogs; win and you’re in. They host Adelaide in Ballarat, a Crows team who can also make the 8 if results go their way. The Bulldogs have been impressive of late and with a group of young gun midfielders I am not sure any team would want to face off against them in week 1 of the finals. While the Bulldogs’ path to the 8 is simple, the Crows would need to beat the Bulldogs with at least a 2.6% percentage swing and hope Port and Hawks lose. If the Crows do win and the Hawks lose then the last game of the round becomes interesting. The Power host a Lyon-less Freo side, knowing a big win could see them catapult from 11th into the 8. The Power and Crows are level on points and percentage only separates them to the 5th decimal place. This should be an interesting round to watch, hoping for lots of drama and shuffling within the 8.
Round 23 tips:
I think all 9 favourites get the job done this week, but there maybe some value in some of the games.
Collingwood $1.36 to beat Essendon $3.1
It’s a tough game to pick, with both teams needing a win to improve their position in the 8. The Pies have injuries galore but have won the last 3 games against the Bombers. The Bombers are on the short back-up from a trip to Perth, Collingwood too strong for me.
Sydney $1.41 to beat St Kilda $2.85
Big Buddy Franklin will play his 300th game this week, and will be the only real reason to tune in. I think the Swans lift for Buddy.
North Melbourne $1.24 to beat Melbourne $3.9
I for one did not see the thumping the Roos gave Port last week coming, 10 goals for Big Ben puts him in the lead for the Coleman, I reckon he kicks another bag this week and celebrates the Coleman. The Roo’s seal the season with a big win and Melbourne’s season from hell finally ends.
Geelong $1.15 to beat Carlton $5.20
The Cats have gone LWLWLWLWL since the bye, the pattern should leave to them landing a W this week. I think they should be too strong especially with top spot on the ladder up for grabs.
GWS $1.04 to beat Gold Coast $9.8
While GWS haven’t been firing on all cylinders, they need to win to secure a home final. Gold Coast have been rooted to bottom of the ladder for a while, and I can’t see them causing an upset here.
Eagles $1.22 to beat Hawthorn $4.1
I believe the Eagles will win in Perth, but $4.1 for Hawthorn seems a crazy price. They met earlier this year, losing by 6 points and if not for questionable goal kicking, they would have won. Plus having the best coach in the AFL helps. Does he have one more game plan to get the Hawks into the 8? The price for Hawthorn is worth a small play or even take the line of +27.5 @ $1.88.
Bulldogs $1.34 to Beat Adelaide $3.20
I believe it is the Bulldogs’ spot in the 8 to lose. The have put in strong performances the last few weeks and are back to Ballarat where they beat the top of the Ladder lions by 16 points. I feel they win comfortably and kick away to win and cover the -18.5 line @ $1.86
Richmond $1.42 to beat Brisbane $2.80
Both coming off tight wins last week against top opposition, the Tigers at home at the ‘G for me. They have been the best team from the last 10 weeks and deserve to be premiership favourites. These teams haven’t played since round 4 in 2018, a lot has changed since then, but Richmond have won the last 12 encounters, and should make it 13.
Port $1.36 to beat Fremantle $3.1
If the Power still has the chance to make the 8 come game time, I think they win, however if they are out of contention $3.1 for Fremantle will look tasty. No caretaker coach has lost their first game this season. Will the trend continue?
To check out the latest odds on every game of the round, click here.