AFL Preview: The Season Is Finally Taking Shape – Will Rigor Mortis Appear?

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It’s AFL Round 17 and we are getting to the very point end of the season. Who will make the finals? In recent years, the final eight would have been decided by now, but not in 2017. However, there’s a feeling that the season is finally taking shape – will this mean boring games, and rigor mortis for the teams that fall out of contention (ie. Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, North Melbourne)? And more predictability?

If you can’t be bothered reading further, feast your ears on The AFL Protected Zone Podcast. One of the best! Listen to it before the match or at half time.

We discuss:

  • The great games of Round 16 (and there were many).
  • Another draw! Get used to it, because draws are the new win.
  • Bad Richmond, punished by St Kilda. Are St Kilda the ‘real deal’, Richmond the pretenders?
  • Subiaco Oval is no longer the house of pain. But is reverse psychology at play?
  • Depression and AFL players. It’s a serious issue.
  • Is there AFL life on Mars, and football in St Petersburg, but not as we know it.
  • The Battle of the Bridge and other big games in Round 17.
  • A new team song for St Kilda. The Saints for The Saints.

Listen in here! Or subscribe through iTunes. Or listen on SoundCloud. Or YouTube. There are many ways to listen to this great AFL podcast. The full program notes for AFL Podcast: Seeing Red Cards And The Politics Of Coaching.

AFL Preview Game 1:  St Kilda v Essendon

Here are two very exciting and up-and-coming teams, and it makes for a Friday Night Lights special.  St Kilda feasted on the carcass of Richmond last weekend, and played sublime football in the second quarter. Essendon are a lighting fast team and showed enough speed last week to run away from Collingwood. Speed as in ‘pace’, not the white powder. Come on, drugs at Essendon are so 2012; get over it.

Compare St Kilda’s second quarter against Richmond last week and Essendon’s first quarter against Port Adelaide in Round 12, and you’re almost seeing identical football. Fast play-on running, rapid ball movement and sublime skills. It’s intoxicating.

So, two very fast teams and it will almost be like two bullets colliding with each other. It’s hard to choose between these two teams but, based on last week, St Kilda’s best is currently more best than Essendon’s best. Essendon have some tall timbers in Joe Daniher and Tom Bellchambers, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti offers great speed around the ground.

Jobe Watson is being rested but look out for St Kilda’s Josh Battle – he should be lining up for his HSC, but he’s playing at centre-half forward instead. St Kilda have all the great names – all they need is to have Maverick Weller back in the team. Maverick and Battle. It’s these types of names that will pull St Kilda over the line. But only just. #AFLSaintsDons

Predictions:

  • Eddy Jay – St Kilda, 14 points
  • Lintang Enam – Essendon, 15 points

ALERT: A WordPress error delayed the publishing of this post on Friday morning. Final scores in this game: Essendon 17.16 (118) defeated St Kilda 7.15 (57). Fizza!

Our fearless predictions: Other AFL games this weekend

AFL Preview Game 2: Geelong v Hawthorn prediction (#AFLCatsHawks):

A battle between cats and birds, and who normally wins that match up? Luke Hodge is playing his 300th game and while this match would have been ‘match of the round’ every year going back to 2008, Hawthorn is not the team of yesteryear, and Hodge’s recently-announced retirement (at the end of this season) is a sign of the changing of the guard.

Geelong need to be careful here. Although Hawthorn is thirteenth on the ladder, they have defeated or drawn with the top two teams – Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney. Hawthorn are getting their mojo back, probably not enough to make the finals, but they should give Geelong a minor defeat.

  • Eddy Jay – Hawthorn, 21 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Hawthorn, 22 points.

AFL Preview Game 3: Port Adelaide v North Melbourne prediction (#AFLPortNorth):

North Melbourne suffered yet another honourable loss last weekend, losing to Fremantle by four points. On the other hand, Port Adelaide ran over the top of West Coast at the Subiaco ‘house of pain’. It seems that the season is becoming more predictable but which Port Adelaide team will show up? The one that defeated West Coast, or the one that was defeated by Essendon – 70 points – in Round 12.

North Melbourne hasn’t been ‘put away’ in any game this season, but it’s also a question of which team will turn up – the one that thrashed Adelaide by 59 points in Round 7, or one that makes all those honourable losses? The speculation about coach Brad Scott probably isn’t helping. It could get ugly here, and Port will shellac with a trowel.

  • Eddy Jay – Port Adelaide, 69 point.
  • Lintang Enam – Port Adelaide, 34 points.

AFL Preview Game 4: Gold Coast v Collingwood prediction (#AFLSunsPies):

We could be witnessing the last game for Nathan Buckley as coach of Collingwood. His results over the past six seasons show that he’s lost the players (if he ever had them in the first place), and we’re expecting a large loss for Collingwood. While this seems counter-intuitive – after all, Gold Coast were defeated by 67 points up in Sydney, and Collingwood weren’t so poor in their 37-point loss against Essendon – but moral seemed super low in the Collingwood changerooms after that game, and the sight of the Collingwood big-wigs deep in discussion with Buckley doesn’t instill confidence – they certainly weren’t discussing the supper menu, until Buckley was part of that menu.

Both Collingwood and Gold Coast have great talent, but they don’t have the right coaches. Goodbye Collingwood, and goodbye Bucks. Gold Coast to carve up Collingwood.

  • Eddy Jay – Gold Coast, 32 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Gold Coast, 90 points.

AFL Preview Game 5: Greater Western Sydney v Sydney prediction (#AFLGiantsSwans):

The 13th installment of the ‘Battle of The Bridge’. Sydney lead 9–4 overall, but Greater Western Sydney has won the last three by 42, 36 and 42 points. And at three different grounds – Sydney Showgrounds, Olympic Park, and the SCG. That’s versatility.

This time, it’s a battle of the Hen and Chicken Bay Bridge, half way between the SCG and the Sydney Showgrounds, where this match is being played. Greater Western Sydney are second on the ladder, but a deeper analysis of their recent form shows they’ve been spluttering. Since they defeated Sydney by 42 points in Round 5, here are their results – win 2 points; loss 23 points; win 3 points; win 3 points; win 8 points; win 16 points; loss 1 point; win 60 points; draw; draw. Six wins, two losses, two draws. Good teams find a way to win, but we don’t think Greater Western Sydney are playing as well as their ladder position suggests.

Sydney are the form team, winning eight of their last nine games. There’s a feeling of the dam walls being broken at Greater Western Sydney, and this could be the game that does it. Sydney are playing with such confidence that it’s hard to see Greater Western Sydney being able to stop that. Lance Franklin to kick a bundle, and Josh P. Kennedy to lead the way after missing out last week through injury.

  • Eddy Jay – Sydney, 48 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Greater Western Sydney, 12 points.

AFL Preview Game 6: Melbourne v Adelaide prediction (#AFLDeesCrows):

Melbourne came back to the winners’ list against Carlton, after their round of boxing against Sydney the week before. When they play football, Melbourne play very well. If they can stop Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane, they’ll go a long way towards winning this game. The game is being played in Darwin, which always brings up some surprise results, the humidity making the ball very slippery and difficult to control. Melbourne surprised Adelaide the last time they met – their third quarter was as surprising as the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Another surprise is on the horizon – this will be more like the Crimean War in the mid-19th Century, and Melbourne to come up with the goods.

  • Eddy Jay – Melbourne, 14 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Adelaide, 35 points.

AFL Preview Game 7: Richmond v Brisbane prediction (#AFLTigersLions):

A feline battle where Richmond will be seeking redemption after their terrible performance against St Kilda. Brisbane was not much better against Geelong but we almost expect that for Brisbane – they’re a developing team, and likely premiers in 2022. We keep telling ourselves that Richmond is a much better team than the half-time scoreline of 1.4 v 14.8 against St Kilda. Gosh, that’s almost a school match scorecard! But that won’t happen again, and Richmond will be singing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song on Sunday. Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer do an excellent version of this song.

  • Eddy Jay – Richmond, 49 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Brisbane, 12 points.

AFL Preview Game 8: Carlton v Western Bulldogs prediction (#AFLBluesDogs):

Despite their lowly position, Carlton seem to be playing an attractive brand of football, and are looking good for 2018. But not 2017. Western Bulldogs are suffering from the mother of all premiership hangovers, and have yet to reach out for the Berocca tablets. Carlton do have some injuries, as do Western Bulldogs, but Carlton are on the up, whereas the Bulldogs are playing as though they have the world of pressure on their shoulders. Robert Murphy is back and he always seems to lead the Bulldogs well but something is not clicking for the Bulldogs. Carlton will add another nail in the coffin of the Western Bulldogs’ 2017 season.

  • Eddy Jay – Carlton, 19 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Carlton, 26 points.

AFL Preview Game 9: Fremantle v West Coast prediction (#AFLFreoEagles):

This is last Western Derby to be played at Subiaco Oval, with all AFL matches moving over to the big kahuna of stadia, Perth Stadium at Burswood, in 2018. There are three Brownlow Medalists playing in the game: Matthew Priddis, Sam Mitchell, and Nat Fyfe. Subiaco Oval has lost it’s ‘house of pain’ status for opposition teams, but this is the home ground for both teams, so it’s hard to decide which team is going to feel the most pain.

Josh J. Kennedy makes his long-awaited return for West Coast, but they can’t rely on him to carry them over the line. West Coast have been sluggish for most of this season, and teams are finding it easy to pick apart their strategies and tactics. Adam Simpson was the master coach in 2015, but has a plan that has been worked out by the opposition and he hasn’t been able to develop a Plan B.

Ross Lyon has the plan. Fremantle will use fast ball movement to break down the West Coast lines, and record a famous victory.

  • Eddy Jay – Fremantle, 9 points.
  • Lintang Enam – Fremantle, 18 points.
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