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The AFL Finals Preview

8 - Brisbane

Brisbane should be better than they are, but they are not. While I believe they are a good chance of beating Richmond tonight, they play the MCG terribly and they will have to face either Melbourne or Sydney second week. Defence is very shaky but they do have an explosive midfield to pair with some strong forwards.


7 - Western Bulldos

I coin them as the anti-Collingwood. A team that is built on a very strong midfield and a good key forward. They do not pressure enough, have too many passengers and one of the worst backlines in the comp. Marcus Bontempelli is the best player in the comp though and if their midfield can consistently fire, they'll be within a chance.


6 - Fremantle

Fremantle have a very well rounded side, lead by a very strong defence, (I rank them 3rd in the comp). Their midfield is solid but their forward line is not good. At all. So it should be an interesting matchup weak 1 as their forward line will not be able to punish the Bulldogs poor defence but their defence should take care of the Naughton led forward line.


5 - Collingwood

As a Pies fan, we have overperformed this year but, there are reasons for this. While our midfield without Grundy is subpar, our defence is one of, if not the best in the comp. Jeremy Howe has been one of the best defenders and the most underrated player in the game. We also lack passengers, having one of the most well rounded teams and pressure very well. However, the forward line outside of Elliott is weak and our midfield really struggles to win clearances and does not use it particularly well at times (Adams could be the worst kick in the comp).


4 - Richmond

While I have Richmond ranked 4th, they very well may not reach the prelims as they have to play Brisbane away, then Melbourne or Sydney into what is likely Geelong. Their defence is not what it used to be either, Vlaustin typically carrying a few back there. Their forward of centre work is awesome with Shai Bolton being one of the most brilliant offensive players in the comp and Dusty to return. Lynch is firing and I do not think anyone will want to play them.


3 - Sydney

Sydney could very well go out in straight sets as they are also on the harder side of the draw but the talent is there. McCartin x2 and Rampe form the foundations of a solid defence. Their midfield is led by Mills, Parker and Warner and have a forward line of Heeney, Buddy & Papley. I feel like they have no weaknesses across their lines, but definitely lack the brillance that the top 2 have, even Richmond I would say have more brilliance.


2 - Melbourne

This team has arguably the best defence in the comp led by Steven May who is one of, if not the best defenders in the comp. Brayshaw has been awesome on the half back flank this season. Their midfield is also arguably the best in the comp, with Gawn, Petracca and Oliver and some solid supporting roles in Langdon and Viney however, the big elephant in the room is their forward line which is actually one of the worst in the comp (will show statistics in a later post). Fritsch is a poacher who does not provide team value and is a front runner, Pickett is too inconsistent and Brown/McDonald/Weideman do not inspire. I also feel we majorly overrate Jacksons impact on the game as he does not present well up forward and Gawn is far better in the midfield but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. There is a clear top 2 IMO but number 1 is more well rounded.


1 - Geelong

People can say what they like about Geelong with their record in the finals since 2012 being 7-15 but I put that down to Geelong having such a dominant home ground where they have overperformed year on year and finished in higher ladder positions than they otherwise should have. Since 2012 (Ignoring 2020) Geelong have won 64/71 games at Kardinia Park for a winning percentage of 90.14%. This puts Geelong as a 19.8 wins a season side down in Geelong. Yes, they typically play weaker Victorian teams down there, somewhat skewing this number slightly but it is a staggering advantage.

However in that same time, Geelong have only won 76/126 games away from Kardinia for a winning percentage of 60.32% or are a 13.3 win side away from home. Yes, a good side but not a top 4 one, a side that is normally 5-8. Yes, home ground advantage is a thing and typically, a side over a prolonged period will win more games at home but Geelong are 1.5x as good at Kardinia compared to elsewhere resulting in Geelong finishing in higher finals positions compared to how good they actually are as a side.

Now why do I say all of this and still have Geelong at number 1? This is because Geelong this year appears to be different gravy and the clear top chance. Excuse the small sample size but Geelong have a roughly similar winning percentage at home this year compared to previous years but where they shine is their ability to win away. Geelong have won 10/13 games away from Kardinia, good enough for a 76.92 winning percentage or 16.9 wins per season, good enough for being a top 1-2 side in the comp most years. This is a 27.5% improvement on years 2012-2021 (not including 2020). Mind you, they have beat Port Away, Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood at the G and the Bulldogs at Telstra Dome (bring it back) and while excuses can be made in a few of those, they have also won 13 wins on the trot, no easy feat.

Geelong also pass the eye test this season as this is the best they have looked from a playing perspective. Their defence is top 4 in the comp, with Sam De Koning already becoming one of the best man defenders and should be the rising star winner (but he will not), Zach Guthrie has establish himself as a good 3rd tall, Jack Henry, while not quite as dominant as last season, still plays a valuable role from a man perspective, Duncan and Tuohy are providing great drive from half back and they also have arguably the best defender in the league in Tom Stewart. Their midfield is better than previous years, with Blicavs playing valuable minutes on the ruck or wing, even as a tagger at times. While Guthrie, Danger and Selwood have slowed, guys like Atkins, Parfitt and Holmes have stepped up, providing their midfield with more speed. Isaac Smith does not look to be ageing on that wing. Their forward line is also better than previous years, with Jeremy Cameron playing a full season (depending on his hamstring) next to Hawkins proving to be a formidable partnership. Tyson Stengle has also given Geelong the small they have been missing. Miers is still solid and having his best pressure season. Gary Rohan in the side still worries me though as I struggle to see how he gets a game.

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