Looking back on last year’s predictions there were something that were obvious and easy to predict and others that left us wondering why we bother with these attempts at the oracle every year in March. The AFL rightly received criticism for its predictability in the second half of 2011 although try telling that to a tipster who got eight right only once last season.
If you can’t get eight tips right with multiple rounds of footy already played how are you supposed to make predictions for an entire season. Human nature is to declare the winners first, however in a bid to improve on my predictions of 2011, this year we can start at the bottom and get some cheap ‘wins’ locked away. Greater Western Sydney will most likely have a name change to drop the Greater before they become great. They are the lock for the wooden spoon.
Second year blues will haunt the Gold Coast (17th) more than I think they and perhaps other pundits will expect. Besides, Port Adelaide have shown enough pre-season to suggest they will not be the basket cases they were last year.
Here is where it gets tricky. Immediately you want look to the teams from last year who were propping up the competition table and the obvious question hits you. How much longer can the Lions, Dees, Tigers and Roos continue to not be in the finals? And worse, without priority picks to tank, sorry be eligible for, surely there is more benefit for these clubs to strive to win at all costs?
Every year there are clubs that come from nowhere to make their way into a surprise finals spot. Think West Coast last year. The problem being that requires a team or teams to drop from last year. Here is the first big call. Western Bulldogs (16th) will have a bad year and St Kilda (15th) won’t be much better. Both have new coaches and new game plans to play.
Brisbane (14th) seem to rely overly on Jonathan Brown but with him having missed so much football they should be used to it by now. With him back on the park that should be a couple more wins than last year and signs of improvement for 2013 to come.
Pre-season form can mean something if you are winning and mean you are ‘trying things’ if you are losing. I have jumped on board the winning and promise that Port Adelaide (13th) have shown this summer and really – they can’t be that bad again.
If the final eight becomes a final 10 then we can assume Richmond (12th) will have a mortgage on 11th although they will even be that good this year. Sure the Tigers are coming and will improve but its very difficult fitting 14 teams into eight – someone has to miss out. Richmond are good at it so what is the difference between ninth and 12th anyway.
In a complete contradiction to my assessment of Port’s preseason form I can’t say the same will be the case for the NAB Cup premiers Adelaide (11th). It will probably take a finals place this year for Adelaide to feature in my preseason finalists next year. At this stage they miss out.
Two days ago when drafting this, North Melbourne (10th) were in the eight. Then a friend alerted me to the fact that the Demons had a very solid list and probably just needed a coach that wasn’t trying to play kids for the future. The problem being that Melbourne (9th) still have a light midfield and more importantly still have better teams ahead of them.
If you thought the Saints and Dogs were surprises, here is the next one. The team that replaced North in the eight are last year’s premiers. Geelong (8th), despite being the supreme team of the past half-decade they surely have to fall at some time. Brisbane fell in the fifth year after making the Grand final, its Geelong’s 6th since their first Premiership of the era, 2012 is not the year of the cat.
Essendon (7th) were impressive last year under James Hird and despite most thinking it will be second year blues of their renaissance, the Bombers will climb one more place on last year. Keeping them out of a home final will be Sydney (6th) who seem to be getting better each year but will fall short of the double change this year.
West Coast (6th) were the surprise climber of last season managing to sneak into the four and whilst there is every chance they will do it again, we have to remember just how good their veterans were last year. Two years in a row seems a more difficult prospect.
If sides are to climb then that means sides have to drop. Last week Collingwood (4th) were missing the four, but like the prospect of Geelong missing the eight, it was hard to seethe Pies, with so many top line players, missing the double chance. However they will lose enough games to make the four no sure thing until late in the season.
The bolter of the season will be the subterfuge coach himself, Ross Lyon and his Fremantle (3rd) outfit. The Dockers were expected to make the grade in 2011 but were cruelled by a big toe of a giant plus all the other injuries that led to Mark Harvey who had a date for the ball only to watch as the more credentialed jock took her home at midnight.
The arrogance is back at Visy Park as Carlton (2nd) continues their improvement trajectory towards a double chance and home final in 2012. Which leaves the obvious pick of Hawthorn (1st) for the minor Premiership.
Ah you say, he has just written the final positions after the home and away matches. That’s right, a Collingwood versus Carlton preliminary final awaits us in September with the Pies to play the Hawks in the Grand Final. What was everyone saying about ‘Kiribilli agreements’ not working….
- West Coast
- North Melbourne
- Port Adelaide
- St Kilda
- Western Bulldogs
- Gold Coast