Saturday, July 13, 2024

Premiers’ decline sparks fears of eerie repeat; the contender who can’t contend? Power Rankings

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Welcome back to the Power Rankings.

Two of Round 17’s big losers face serious dilemmas, with the premiers’ slide continuing, and a clear contender nearly falling out of contention.

What are the Power Rankings? This is our attempt to rank every AFL club from best to worst. We take wins and losses into account, but also the quality of opposition faced and whether teams are likely to get healthier and/or improve going forward. It’s a little bit ‘who’s hot and who’s not’; part predictive, part analysis of what’s happened. If Team A is above Team B, we’d probably tip A to win if they were playing at a neutral venue this weekend.

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All times AEST.

Cripps endorses Hansen for Eagles job | 01:01

1. SYDNEY SWANS (13-3, 140.8%)

Last week: Ranked 1st, lost to St Kilda by 2 pts

Is there a way to create a loss by the runaway ladder leader that means less? The fact they lost to the Saints doesn’t impact the finals race at all. Carlton also losing means the Swans are still virtually certain to finish on top. It was by two points, in a game where they kicked 3.11 to the opposition’s 9.2 in the second half, so this was your classic result decided by goalkicking. And they even had the late chance to win it. So… whatever! It’s just a game! Live your life free of the burden of concern!

This week: North Melbourne at the SCG, Saturday 1:45pm

Heeney out of Brownlow race after ruling | 00:38

2. CARLTON (11-5, 116.1%)

Last week: Ranked 2nd, lost to GWS by 12 pts

How much of the Blues’ collapse was Jacob Weitering’s injury, how much was Carlton Being Carlton, and how much was the Giants rediscovering their magic? Always hard to apportion the blame but we’re not too concerned about one stumble, away from home, against a team with a top-four ceiling that was fighting for its season. And we won’t be concerned if they lose to the Bulldogs either, who are in a similar desperate position and are a quality side. Especially given the Blues could very easily win their last six games, with four games against the bottom six plus Port at home and an out-of-form Collingwood.

This week: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm

Are Carlton getting ahead of themselves? | 02:30

3. BRISBANE LIONS (9-6-1, 120.4%)

Last week: Ranked 3rd, def Adelaide by 11 pts

You could make the case the Lions are the second-best team in it right now, but both they and Carlton just have a few defensive issues we’d like to see tightened up. Having said that the win over Adelaide was nowhere near as close as it looked on the scoreboard, and over the last five weeks Chris Fagan’s side is probably the form team of the competition. They would have rather gotten West Coast the week before they departed with Adam Simpson, instead of facing a perhaps emotionally-boosted Eagles group, but you’d think given the Lions’ quality they’ll get the job done anyway. They were sitting in the bottom six after Round 15, and now they’re seventh and a win off third, so that all-important double chance is well within reach. Even if that means a qualifying final at Sydney or Carlton, the Lions would have every reason to believe that’s winnable.

This week: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, Sunday 4:40pm

Lions get season back on track | 02:13

4. FREMANTLE (10-5-1, 115.1%)

Last week: Ranked 5th, def Richmond by 51 pts

Their one loss since mid-May, against the Bulldogs, was pretty horrendous but apart from that the Dockers have been something rare in this AFL season – a consistently good team. Their attack is working much better than anyone is giving them credit for, and while in a typical year their percentage would just be quite good, it’s currently the fourth-best in the comp. The point being, they are a legit top four team, and even if they lose to the 13th-placed Hawks this weekend (entirely possible) they should end up in a qualifying final. There is always one team that bolts from the bottom 10 to the top four, and it appears it’ll be Freo… can’t say we predicted that but full credit to Justin Longmuir, his staff and the playing group for how they’ve turned things around after a dour 2023. This is the trajectory we all thought they were on coming out of 2022, and given all of the oft-disliked big teams competing for the flag this year, plenty of neutrals would be behind Freo if they make it to the prelims.

This week: Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm

Dockers jump to 3rd after big win | 01:01

5. WESTERN BULLDOGS (8-8, 114.8%)

Last week: Ranked 4th, lost to Port Adelaide by 48 pts

We still want to believe in the Bulldogs as a genuine contender, but the reality of their situation is making that difficult. As explained in this week’s Run Home, they pretty much have to win at least one of their next three – Carlton, Geelong in Geelong, or Sydney in Sydney – to have a serious chance of making the finals. They could sneak into the eight with 12 wins if everything goes right… but what exactly does everything right mean? They would either need all of the nine-win teams (GWS, Collingwood and Melbourne) to go 3-4 over their last seven (at best), or one of Brisbane, Port Adelaide or Geelong to go 2-5, in order to catch and pass them. This is how quickly the ladder maths can work against you, even when you’re a win outside of eighth.

This week: Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm

6. GEELONG (10-6, 109.7%)

Last week: Ranked 10th, def Hawthorn by 51 pts

We’re still a bit wary of the Cats as a proper contender, and if they make it into the top four we suspect that qualifying final won’t go great for them, but two very mature wins in very important moments have put them in a great place to secure a finals return. It’s been a fortnight that reminds you why Chris Scott might be the best coach in the game, masterminding a few important magnet moves, most notably Sam De Koning starring in the ruck. It also helps that they seem to be getting Collingwood at a good time – and if you’re a fan of transitive property, surely their win over Essendon followed by Essendon’s win over Collingwood means the Cats are certainties?

This week: Collingwood at the MCG, Friday 7:40pm

Hawkins reveals update on injury | 05:09

7. PORT ADELAIDE (10-6, 104.8%)

Last week: Ranked 9th, def Western Bulldogs by 48 pts

Even having watched it happen we can’t quite explain that Power-Dogs result – not that Port Adelaide won, but that they won like that. We won’t let one game swing our view of a team completely, and we’ve been bitten too many times when starting to believe in Ken Hinkley’s side, but that one result massively boosted their finals odds. After all it was by far their best win since… what, Round 5 vs Essendon? Despite it, a loss away to the Suns wouldn’t surprise us at all, and they’ve got a ways to go if they want to get where they need to be.

This week: Gold Coast Suns at People First Stadium, Sunday 1:10pm

8. ESSENDON (10-5-1, 99.9%)

Last week: Ranked 12th, def Collingwood by 12 pts

Ah yes, the top-four team with twice as many wins as losses, but a percentage under 100… the rarest of beasts. We still have no clue what to make of the Bombers other than a shrug and a ‘yeah, they’re good I guess’, and in a season where there aren’t enough top contenders they can still make top four. And getting Melbourne in their first week without Max Gawn is a mighty blessing, perhaps swinging that result. We’re at least confident Zach Merrett is very, very good, and probably the All-Australian captain as it stands. Hey, the higher they finish, the harder it’ll be to not win a final…

This week: Melbourne at the MCG, Saturday 7:30pm

Yze open to NRL model of playing futures | 02:18

9. COLLINGWOOD (8-6-2, 104.5%)

Last week: Ranked 6th, lost to Essendon by 12 pts

We are going to keep believing in the Magpies even as the numbers suggest they’re in a decline that’s seriously harming their finals chances. It’s very Geelong 2023, with all of the injuries continuing to mount, and flashes of greatness but just not enough of it. Over the last six rounds they’ve totally lost their intercept game, sitting bottom six for both intercept marks and possessions, which has seem them sitting bottom six for points conceded and allowing teams to go from defensive 50 to inside 50. Their contested ball and groundball numbers away from the stoppage are even worse – bottom two for contested possessions and groundball gets over the last six weeks. But again, we are going to respect the reputation. We will believe they are eliminated from the flag race when the final siren sounds either in Round 24, or in September, and not a moment before.

This week: Geelong at the MCG, Friday 7:40pm

Pies following in the footsteps of Cats? | 01:09

10. GWS GIANTS (9-7, 108.6%)

Last week: Ranked 11th, def Carlton by 12 pts

Hard to tell exactly how much of Saturday’s tremendous comeback win was them getting their game together, and how much was Jacob Weitering’s injury, but regardless it was another one of those games where you look at the Giants and remember how damn good they can be. Which makes it all the more frustrating when they look limp and inept. They should be just fine against the Tigers, and really everything is lining up for them to claim a spot in the eight which Collingwood or the Bulldogs might otherwise take – they get the Suns in Sydney in Round 19 (so that’s an automatic win), Max Gawn might still be missing for Melbourne in Round 20, and the week after it’s Hawthorn, which has lost its momentum and Mitch Lewis. Watch them score 60 points and look awful this week just as we’re getting excited…

This week: Richmond at the MCG, Sunday 3:20pm

11. HAWTHORN (8-8, 94.2%)

Last week: Ranked 7th, lost to Geelong by 51 pts

Sam Mitchell suggested the Hawks were just a little bit off everywhere; and in games like Geelong in Geelong, that can easily equate to a belting. They were due a poor performance because it was just illogical for this list, at this point of its build, to stay up at a top-four level for so long. Maybe the decline will continue against the Dockers but there’s still room to turn this season from a success (which it already is) into a ridiculous success. Though it’s worth noting they’ve been quite bad against their 2013 Grand Final opponents in recent years, losing six straight by an average of six goals.

This week: Fremantle at UTAS Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm

Kennett & Caro CLASH in heated debate | 01:09

12. MELBOURNE (9-7, 104.4%)

Last week: Ranked 13th, def West Coast by 54 pts

They would be higher than this if not for Max Gawn’s injury, which might be the most important possible absence in the AFL. And it comes at a horrendous time, with the Demons looking genuinely very good against the Eagles (yes, the opposition wasn’t great) and facing a critical stretch of winnable games. Maybe not so much Freo in the west, but they could certainly beat the Bombers and Giants at the MCG at full health; Gawn’s absence will probably swing our tip the other way. Bit of a shame if they miss out because of one small, freakish injury but at the same time missing out and fully committing to reloading for 2025 might make more sense.

This week: Essendon at the MCG, Saturday 7:30pm

Gawn hopeful of missing only one match | 02:10

13. GOLD COAST SUNS (8-8, 105.3%)

Last week: Ranked 8th, lost to North Melbourne by 4 pts

Serves us right for putting them inside our top eight in the second half of the season – they’re apparently allergic to that. Look, this team is going to be very good very soon, because they just have too much talent and too smart of a coach to keep failing. And if the Suns don’t make the eight in 2024, they will be an automatic pick for us as one of 2025’s risers. One clear thing to try and fix up is their forward efficiency – they are No.2 in the AFL for inside 50s but No.17 for scores per inside 50, a staggering discrepancy that points to enormous potential growth. They are a very good chance of winning this weekend, and staying in the top eight race at least mathematically, but they still have to win some away games to make it. And why would we have any faith that they can?

This week: Port Adelaide at People First Stadium, Sunday 1:10pm

Max King to be offered 9-year $10M deal? | 01:58

14. ST KILDA (6-10, 93.1%)

Last week: Ranked 15th, def Sydney by 2 pts

This week: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7:30pm

15. ADELAIDE CROWS (5-10-1, 102.6%)

Last week: Ranked 14th, lost to Brisbane by 11 pts

This week: St Kilda at Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7:30pm

We kinda still believe in the Crows more overall, and we’re definitely tipping them this week (with help from home ground advantage), but St Kilda’s spectacular win over Sydney means they deserve praise. And if putting them up into 14th in the rankings counts as praise, well, here we are. We’re happy to point out that we joked on the Fox Footy Podcast last week about broadcasters begrudgingly showing Saints games because of how they play… and were immediately proven wrong by Sunday’s showing. In particular Mattaes Phillipou finally showed what he is capable of, while Liam Henry has sneakily been one of the better recruits of the year. As for the Crows, well, let’s just say they’re lucky the Izak Rankine suspension didn’t happen while they were actually trying to compete for a finals spot, because losing someone who’s probably a top-10 AFL player at this point for a month in those circumstances would’ve been devastating. (And made Rankine’s behaviour even more stupid.)

Bolton to stay a Tiger despite offers | 02:33

16. NORTH MELBOURNE (2-14, 66.1%)

Last week: Ranked 17th, def Gold Coast by 4 pts

This week: Sydney Swans at the SCG, Saturday 1:45pm

17. RICHMOND (2-14, 62.3%)

Last week: Ranked 16th, lost to Fremantle by 51 pts

This week: GWS Giants at the MCG, Sunday 3:20pm

18. WEST COAST EAGLES (3-13, 69.1%)

Last week: Ranked 18th, lost to Melbourne by 54 pts

This week: Brisbane Lions at Optus Stadium, Sunday 4:40pm

It’s worth grouping these three together because this is a genuine race to avoid the wooden spoon now. Remember, the Kangaroos have finished in the bottom two in four straight seasons, and avoiding a half-decade of being absolutely awful is a worthy goal. Rounds 21 an 22 are the most important of the season for this trio – first the Eagles host Gold Coast, which is obviously winnable given… *gestures at the Suns’ road record*… and the Tigers face North at Marvel. Then the Kangas host West Coast in Hobart, while the Tigers get St Kilda at Marvel, which is more winnable than most games. If any team goes 2-0 in that block they’ll avoid the spoon, and this isn’t a year where you absolutely have to have the No.1 pick like last year, because there isn’t a Harley Reid-level talent at the top. Exciting times.

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