After Geelong’s 34 point loss to a struggling Essendon side on the weekend some have been quick to dismiss the Cats’ chances of finishing high on the ladder.
To be sure it was not a great night for Geelong, and the loss saw them drop to eighth on the AFL ladder, with five wins and four losses. They also dropped a couple of places on my rankings, but I still have them fourth, among sides such as Adelaide, Sydney, and West Coast. That is, despite the loss to the Bombers, the rankings still consider them a ‘good’ side. Why?
Geelong still carries over some ranking points from 2017, in which they were one of the four best sides. Note also that the AFL ladder is pretty close in 2018 – last week the Cats had shot up to third, but at the moment one bad loss brings you quickly back down again.
But the main reason that the rankings still rate Geelong so highly is that Saturday night’s loss against Essendon was the Cats’ first real ‘bad’ performance for 2018 (see chart above). Based on net margins adjusted for home ground advantage they’ve had:
- two ‘very good’ wins, thrashing GWS, and comfortably beating Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval;
- three other ‘good’ wins, against St. Kilda (even after adjusting for the Saints’ lowly rating), Collingwood, and Melbourne; and
- three losses – against West Coast, Hawthorn, and Sydney – in which they still played relatively OK.
Most teams have had at least one ‘bad’ performance to date, with ladder leaders West Coast and Richmond being the exceptions (see chart below). [P.S. The Eagles look ‘for real’ now … or at least in hot form the past few weeks. P.P.S. The Tigers’ loss to West Coast just missed the cut-off for ‘bad’.] It’s almost impossible to get through the season without at least one ‘poor’ performance (unless you are the 2000 Bombers).
To state the obvious in a way, Geelong wouldn’t want performances like Saturday’s to become part of a trend. But if it turns out to be a ‘blip’ then there’s enough other evidence to suggest the Cats are once again a good side in 2018.