ADELAIDE and GEELONG
We think the Adelaide Crows will be the 2018 AFL premiers. The old saying goes you have to lose a Grand Final before you can win one and let’s face it, the Crows were embarrassed on the last Saturday in September in 2017. Heading into the big dance they were the raging favourites but they were completely outplayed by a ruthless Richmond. A favourite son has finally returned to South Australia with Bryce Gibbs set to bolster a midfield that already includes elites Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch. The Crows have lost Jake Lever to Melbourne, but in his place, Jake Kelly looks set to marshal the back line. Take the odds now before everyone remembers how good the Crows really are.
If you’re looking for value, go no further than Geelong to win the flag. Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood. It’s the best male trio since Hanson released Mmmbop in 1997. They are basically unbeatable at home and this year they will play nine matches at the old Kardinia Park. The Cats are a lock to make the finals and if they get their midfield superstars firing, good luck stopping them.
Best Bet: Adelaide Crows @ $6.50
Value Bet: Geelong @ $9
SYDNEY and HAWTHORN
We’re still not sure what happened in the first six rounds last year when Sydney went winless. Normal transmission resumed after with the Swans arguably the best team for the remainder of the season. Young guns Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and Tom Papley look set to push the Swans to the top of the ladder again. There is a concern over their lack of depth in ruck with Sam Naismith doing his knee in pre-season but the fact of the matter is the Swans haven’t had, or needed, a good ruckman since Darren Jolly helped them win the flag in 2005.
Following a similar path last season to Sydney was Hawthorn. The Hawks was a laughing stock early in the season before turning their form around and taking scalps of Sydney and Adelaide on the road. You just know the mastermind Alistair Clarkson is going to bring something new to the table in 2018 and if their premiership stars can return to fitness don’t be surprised to see the Hawks up near the top four again.
Best Bet: Sydney @ $1.75
Value Bet: Hawthorn @ $6.50
MELBOURNE and ST KILDA
The Demons are everyone’s tip this season to shoot up the ladder. Simon Goodwin’s men look ready to atone for the disappointment of 2017. A fit and firing Max Gawn will reclaim his position as the best big man in the league while Jesse Hogan looks set to challenge for the Coleman Medal. Jake Lever could be the recruit of the season while look for mature age rookie Bayley Fritsch to surprise teams with his poise and impressive left boot.
St Kilda could be the surprise packet this season. Without legend Nick Riewoldt at the helm, the footy community has written off the Saints but consider this: the only team that has more players aged 21-24 than St Kilda is Melbourne. There is a hell of a lot of improvement still in the Saints list, headlined by Jack Billings, Jade Gresham, Jack Steele, Paddy McCartin and Blake Acres.
Best Bet: Melbourne @ $1.80
Value Bet: St Kilda @ $3
The retirements of Brownlow Medallists Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis has left a gaping hole in the Eagles’ midfield. Former Lion Jack Redden will attempt to fill the void but inside midfield options are thin after that, unless recruit Brendon Ah Chee steps up.
West Coast’s fortunes appear all in the hands of Nic Naitanui who was not sighted in any of the Eagles preseason matches.
The other mystery is how West Coast will adapt to playing at the new Optus Stadium which, with its wider wings, may not suit the Eagles intercept style led by Jeremy McGovern.
All these questions suggest the $1.50 for West Coast to miss the finals could be an attractive bet.
Best Bet: West Coast @ $1.50