The top of the Power Rankings has not been this crowded and changeable since the first seven rounds of 2012, when 2011 Grand Finalists Geelong and Collingwood were brought back to the pack. Last week reigning AFL premiers Hawthorn crashed from first to fifth in the rankings, and this week reigning runners-up West Coast crash from the top spot to fourth.
The new top-ranked club is the Adelaide Crows, despite finishing last season in sixth, and winning only four of their first seven matches. But the Crows’ performances in those three losses – to Hawthorn, the Western Bulldogs, and North Melbourne – were pretty much in line with how the rankings expect they would perform, given their two goal disadvantage when playing in Victoria. Adelaide have had a tough fixture to start the season, and once their fixture becomes easier, and if they maintain their form, their win-loss record should become more reflective of where they are at.
But that is not to say the Crows will lead the ladder as the season goes on. According to the rankings they are of pretty much the same quality as the teams ranked second and fifth. Adelaide is the ‘worst’-performed side to hold the top position since West Coast in Round 9 of 2012. Basically they are closer to what Sydney and Richmond were last season than the 2015 Eagles or Hawks.
Another way to put it is that so far in 2016 no club looks to be ‘great’. Adelaide, Sydney, Geelong, West Coast, and Hawthorn are all ranked about the same, with the Dogs not far behind. In 2012 Hawthorn and Sydney eventually separated themselves from the pack and became clearly that year’s two best teams. Will that happen again this season? Or will we have a season that is more like 1993 or 1997? Or are we just a few weeks away from Geelong – this year’s most improved team outside of GWS – re-establishing their comfortable perch at the rankings top?