I said last week that it looked like the eight ‘best’ teams according to my rankings would actually also be the eight sides in this year’s finals series. That’s still the case – but that’s only because Melbourne’s loss to Collingwood drops them out of the top eight ranked sides this week, with the West Coast Eagles, as they did on the actual ladder heading into the finals, taking their place.
And so the first week of AFL finals are set. As I’ve done for the past few years I’m going to try and predict the results of each final, using each team’s rankings points at this stage, along with my usual home ground advantage adjustments. In general this leads to a fairly orthodox pick for the flag. But this year the results may be somewhat of a surprise.Qualifying Finals:
Adelaide defeats GWS
Richmond defeats Geelong
Port Adelaide defeats West Coast
Sydney defeats Essendon
GWS defeats Port Adelaide
Sydney defeats Geelong
Adelaide defeats Sydney
Richmond defeats GWS
Richmond defeats Adelaide
Wow - !! Did I just show that Richmond is the favourite for the flag? Well… no. I would say that clearly the Adelaide Crows are the team with the best chance of winning the premiership going into this year’s finals series.
The main problems with this straight head-to-head prediction method is that it doesn’t show how close the teams’ chances of winning each match are, and doesn’t show what is predicted to happen under alternative paths. Based on my rankings Richmond’s chances of beating Geelong in a final, and Adelaide in a final at the MCG, are about as close to 50-50 as you can get. If Richmond loses its first final against Geelong it is potentially thrown on to a tough path to the Grand Final, possibly having to face off against Sydney the next week (for which my rankings would not favour them), and then possibly Adelaide on the road after that (for which the Tigers would definitely not be favoured).
In contrast if Adelaide loses its first final it’s path will probably not be as tough, with a home final against Port Adelaide or West Coast the next week, and then a final against Geelong or Richmond the week after that. And at best the Crows will have two home finals, and then the Grand Final, quite possibly against a non-Victorian club.
My rankings actually rate the Sydney Swans as a slightly better team than Adelaide going into the finals series. But the Crows’ chances of winning the premiership are better, as they only have to win three matches to be the premiers, whereas the Swans – who finished in sixth – have to win four.
I’ll be back after the finals series finishes in five weeks time with my final rankings for 2017. Unless Richmond actually does win the flag, in which case you may hear from me in about November. Enjoy the finals!