Monday, March 27, 2017

AFL Power Rankings: Round 1 2017

Welcome back to The Wooden Finger’s AFL Power Rankings for 2017. Before we get to this week’s rankings I said in my final AFL Women’s Power Rankings last week that I would give an update on where Brisbane and Adelaide ended up after the Grand Final. As you’d probably expect Adelaide moved to the top of the rankings after beating the Lions on their home turf to capture the first AFL Women’s flag. The Crows ended up with 14.0 ranking points, while Brisbane remained in third behind Melbourne, and dropped a couple of ranking points to finish on 6.5. That would put the two sides on about even terms in a hypothetical rematch in Queensland, which is almost how their Grand Final ended up.

So to recap, here is how the Power Rankings work – each club accumulates ranking points from its past 22 matches like so:
  • first, take the club’s net margin for the match – e.g. a six-goal win is +36;
  • second, adjust the net margin for home ground advantage – e.g. Perth clubs are considered to have a two-goal disadvantage when playing in Melbourne, so a six-goal win in Melbourne for a Perth club is adjusted to +48; and
  • third, weight the match according to how recent it is, with the most recent match having the highest weight.  
One can then interpret a club’s ranking points as its expected net margin in a match if playing a club of average ability on a neutral ground. For example, according to the rankings the Western Bulldogs would be expected to beat a Victorian club of average ability by about three goals, and Carlton would be expected to lose by about four goals in the same situation.
This week Adelaide, having ascended to the top of the women’s rankings, now also tops the men’s rankings. The Crows – despite their relatively early exit from the finals – were really good last year. Unfortunately for them they had a tough draw and an extremely costly loss in the last round of the regular season, which dropped them from second to fifth heading into the finals. However Adelaide re-affirmed its quality this weekend with a comfortable win over the GWS Giants, who were the pre-season premiership favourites.
You may also note that last year’s premiers the Western Bulldogs are only the sixth-ranked team. The Bulldogs’ form actually wasn’t that great heading into the finals series (though injuries may have played a part), but then of course they caught fire in September and raced away to a long-awaited flag. With that in mind the Dogs beat Collingwood on the weekend by about as much as one should expect they would, even though the Pies were lauded for keeping things close against the reigning premiers. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some comments about the Bulldogs having gone off the boil in the coming weeks, even if they are playing at a similar or higher level than they did for most of last year.

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