Season Preview… take two

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Let’s try this again. AFL is back this year for a second time in one of the most anticipated seasons to date.

 It’s time to awaken from our COVID-19 slumber and start pondering the important questions. How will hubs affect teams, how will the rolling fixture look for the remaining season, which teams will benefit from the shortened quarters, and most importantly, will we see any sort of crowds this season?

We don’t have definitive answers for all those questions, but what we do have is the ability to make some season predictions that will most definitely make the writer look like a chump in a few months’ time.

With that being said, let’s get into the Updated Season Preview for 2020.

Brownlow Medal

Old Prediction- Patrick Cripps ($6) New Prediction- Patrick Cripps ($7)

The odds may have increased for Cripps, but this still looms as his year to snag home Charlie. Carlton finished as four goal losers against the Tigers, after getting off to a putrid start trailing by 5 goals. Led by Cripps’s 31 possessions (17 contested), 10 clearances, 7 inside 50’s and 9 score involvements (In shorter quarters!) Carlton were able to match the premiership favourites for three quarters. Cripps won’t stop putting in these mammoth performances, meaning his Brownlow chances ultimately come down to his team success in the home and away season. If Cripps was able to amass 26 Brownlow votes with only 7 wins in 2019, how many will he pick up when Carlton inevitably become more competitive?

Premiership winners

Old Prediction- GWS ($6.5)   New Prediction- Geelong ($15)

It is easy to see why Geelong are the biggest winners of the rolling fixture, with 3 of their next 4 games being played at GMHBA. The AFL has often been reluctant to schedule crowd-drawing games at Kardinia Park, preferring to have them played at the MCG. With no crowds for the foreseeable future, Geelong look set to reap the rewards of home ground advantage from which they have won 33 of their last 37 games. This presents an excellent opportunity for Chris Scott’s men to aim for a top 2 finish and attempt once more to get over the final’s hump that has strangled them for 4 seasons. The AFL has given Geelong a gift, and with their aging list (Ablett, Hawkins, Dangerfield, Taylor, Selwood) they must take advantage of this opportunity now, as no one knows how much output is left from Geelong’s veterans.

Coleman Medal

Old Prediction- Josh J Kennedy   New Prediction- Ben Brown

Although the sample size is small, many of the forwards’ roles were made apparent in the first round. Martin will continue to spend more time in the forward 50, taking away goal scoring opportunities from Lynch, whereas Jeremy Cameron was positioned in a half-forward role, albeit he still kicked three goals. Kennedy’s performance in a win over Melbourne was disappointing from a goal scoring perspective, finishing without a single goal attempt. Ben Brown looked impressive in the Roos win over Saints, and looks set to have a stellar season, picking up 5 score involvements and a goal. Although there are many question marks still bubbling around due to these unique circumstances, perhaps this is the year that Brown takes the step-up from Runner Up and wins the Coleman outright. After all, it’s been a long time coming for him.

Sneaky chance to make the 8

Old Prediction- Essendon ($2.4)    New Prediction- Essendon ($2.6)

The 81 day layoff from footy has benefited the Bombers more than any other team from an injury perspective. The Bombers were missing Ambrose, Daniher, Heppel, Hooker and McKernan from their Round 1 win over the Dockers, all of whom are walk-up starters in their best 22. Daniher is likely still a few rounds off from making a return, but Essendon will welcome back the other four with open arms. There is no reason why Essendon shouldn’t improve upon their 2019 campaign, however the competition this year is as competitive as ever, and will likely see Essendon compete for a 7th/8th position with a multitude of teams, one of which is Hawthorn who are regaining a Brownlow medallist. However, not everyone can make the 8, and the returning players of Essendon should see them jump ahead of teams like the Power and the Saints.

Predicted Top 18

  1. West Coast Eagles
  2. Geelong
  3. Richmond
  4. Collingwood
  5. Greater Western Sydney
  6. Brisbane Lions
  7. Hawthorn
  8. Essendon
  9. Port Adelaide
  10. Western Bulldogs
  11. St Kilda
  12. Melbourne
  13. Carlton
  14. North Melbourne
  15. Fremantle Dockers
  16. Adelaide Crows
  17. Sydney Swans
  18. Gold Coast Suns