2019 AFL Season Preview

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The 2019 AFL season is here!

The past three AFL seasons have produced surprise premiers and there were very few experts that successfully selected the Western Bulldogs, Richmond or West Coast Eagles to win the flag in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Will the surprises continue in 2019 or will we see a return to the norm?

We have analysed all 18 sides in the competition and our complete 2019 AFL Season Preview can be found below.

Adelaide Crows

2018 Finish: 12th

2019 Predicted Finish: 6th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 12-10

Home: 8-3

Away: 4-7

Against The Line

Overall: 10-12

Home: 6-5

Away: 4-7

Premiership Odds: $11

Nothing went right for the Adelaide Crows last season, but it should be noted that they were only one win outside the top eight. Adelaide still have one of the strongest lists in the competition and there really isn’t many weaknesses. Their defence is rock solid, their midfield is packed full of proven ball-winners and there forward line is one of the most dangerous in the entire competition. It would be a big shock if they were unable to improve on last season’s flat effort and a return to the top eight seems highly likely.

Brisbane Lions

2018 Finish: 15th

2019 Predicted Finish: 11th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 5-17

Home: 2-9

Away: 3-8

Against The Line

Overall: 10-12

Home: 5-6

Away: 5-6

Premiership Odds: $67

There is no doubt that the Brisbane Lions are a side that is heading in the right direction. There is an argument to be made that they were one of the best five-win sides in history last season and I’m confident that they can finish 2019 with double-figure wins. The loss of Dayne Beams is offset by the recruitment of Lachie Neale and they have a host of young players that are more than capable of taking big strides this season. I still don’t think that they have the overall quality to finish inside the top eight, but they could be in the finals mix for a long way.

Carlton

2018 Finish: 18th

2019 Predicted Finish: 16th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 2-20

Home: 1-11

Away: 1-11

Against The Line

Overall: 9-13

Home: 4-7

Away: 5-6

Premiership Odds: $151

Can Carlton finally make some strides this season? It would be hard for them to be as big as they were in 2018. Their recruitment has actually been fairly strong in recent years and they now have a young core together that is undoubtedly led by genuine superstar Patrick Cripps. Number 1 draft pick Sam Walsh seems like a can’t-miss prospect and Marc Murphy and Ed Curnow add plenty of quality to the midfield. We shouldn’t get carried away though, Carlton will still well and truly be in the wooden spoon mix, but they definitely have the quality to drag themselves off the bottom of the ladder and at least win more than two games.

Collingwood

2018 Finish: 3rd (Lost Grand Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 5th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 17-9

Home: 8-4

Away: 9-5

Against The Line

Overall: 14-12

Home: 7-5

Away: 7-7

Premiership Odds: $6

It will be interesting to see how Collingwood respond in 2019. They were outstanding in 2018 and really should have won the premiership, but they definitely have the chance to regress somewhat in 2019. We have seen that losing a Grand Final can leave a team with some mental demons, Adelaide are a perfect example, and the pressure will be on Nathan Buckley to back-up what was easily the best season of his coaching career. The return of Dayne Beams makes their midfield once of the best in the competition and Brodie Grundy is a player that continues to get better. There is no reason that they can’t be in the premiership mix once again, but it would not surprise to see them start the year a touch slowly.

Essendon

2018 Finish: 11th

2019 Predicted Finish: 6th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 12-0

Home: 7-4

Away: 5-6

Against The Line

Overall: 12-10

Home: 6-5

Away: 6-5

Premiership Odds: $10

Is this the year that Essendon finally win a final again? There was plenty of hype surrounding Essendon last season, but their year was basically over before it began following a putrid first two months of the season. They were substantially better in the second half of the year and that sort of form would be enough to have them in the top four mix. Dylan Shiel adds some much-needed quality to their midfield and they now do have a fairly well-balanced side. The big question mark is Joe Daniher. He struggled for fitness badly last year and he was poor when he did get on the field, but if he is able to return to a semblance of his best form, he has the quality to help lift the Bombers back into the top eight.

Fremantle

2018 Finish: 14th

2019 Predicted Finish: 17th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 8-14

Home: 6-5

Away: 2-9

Against The Line

Overall: 12-10

Home: 8-3

Away: 4-7

Premiership Odds: $41

It is hard to know what to make of Fremantle. It was not long ago that they qualified for a preliminary final, but they have been the definition of mediocre in recent seasons and that doesn’t look like it will change in 2019. Scoring points continues to be a big issues and they have signed Jess Hogan to attempt to fix that issue. I’m not sure that Hogan is the answer and he would have to be one of the most overrated players in the competition. Nathan Fyfe is obviously a star, but the loss of Lachie Neale to the Brisbane Lions does leave him somewhat exposed in the midfield. Reece Conca is a handy signing from Richmond, but he is no Neale. The Dockers have one of the weakest lists in the competition and it would not surprise to see them in the wooden spoon mix.

Geelong

2018 Finish: 8th (Lost Elimination Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 4th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 13-10

Home: 8-3

Away: 5-7

Against The Line

Overall: 12-11

Home: 6-5

Away: 6-6

Premiership Odds: $17

2019 is definitely a tipping point for Geelong. Will they reassert themselves as genuine premiership contenders or will their slide down the ladder continue? I believe that Geelong will bounce back to a semblance of their best form this season and the $17 available for them to win the premiership is well and truly over the odds. They may have finished in eighth position on the ladder, but their percentage was the second best in the competition and their list remains extremely strong. Gary Ablett moving further forward does give them a slightly more balanced outfit and he will be a unique assignment for opposition defence this season. Their record away from Kardinia Park was poor last season and if they can improve their form on the road there is no reason that they can’t work themselves back into the top eight.

Gold Coast Suns

2018 Finish: 17th

2019 Predicted Finish: 18th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 4-18

Home: 1-10

Away: 3-8

Against The Line

Overall: 11-11

Home: 5-6

Away: 6-5

Premiership Odds: $501

The Gold Coast Suns are the extreme outsiders in AFL Premiership betting for a reason. Their list is the worst in the AFL by a fairly considerable margin and potentially one of the worst in the history of the competition. Stuart Dew is definitely a coach with plenty of talent, but I’m not sure that even Alastair Clarkson would be able to win more than a handful of games with this side. It would be a shock to see the Suns avoid the wooden spoon and it really is tough to see this franchise making any sort of an impact over the next couple of seasons.

Greater Western Sydney

2018 Finish: 7th (Lost Semi Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 8th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 14-10

Home: 8-3

Away: 6-7

Against The Line

Overall: 9-15

Home: 3-8

Away: 6-7

Premiership Odds: $13

A maiden AFL Premiership continues to elude the GWS Giants and they are another side that could head in either direction this season. They have once again lost plenty of talent during the off-season, but this is a list that is still packed full of ability and their midfield remains up there with the best in the competition. Jeremy Cameron has struggled for consistency at times, but remains an absolute star on his day and Phil Davis lead a defensive unit that is very strong. The problem for the Giants in recent seasons has been keeping all their talent on the park at the same time and they have had one of the most injury-prone lists in the entire competition. The Giants have too much talent to bottom out of the top eight, but I still don’t think that they are any closer to winning a maiden premiership.

Hawthorn

2018 Finish: 4th (Lost Semi Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 10th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 15-9

Home: 8-4

Away: 7-5

Against The Line

Overall: 14-10

Home: 7-5

Away: 7-5

Premiership Odds: $26

Hawthorn definitely overachieved in 2018 and a slide down the ladder in 2019 seems inevitable. Brownlow Medal winner Tom Mitchell was easily their best player last season and the loss of him is one that the Hawks no longer have the depth to cover for. His absence means that there will be plenty of pressure on Jaeger O’Meara and new recruit Tom Scully and I’m not sure that they are up to the task. They have an ageing forward line that isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as it once was and they will need to rely on their defence fairly heavily. Alastair Clarkson is a genius and he could very well make me look stupid, but this is a side that is close to rebuilding and it would take a herculean closing effort to remain in the eight.

Melbourne

2018 Finish: 5th (Lost Preliminary Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 2nd

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 16-9

Home: 7-5

Away: 9-4

Against The Line

Overall: 17-8

Home: 7-5

Away: 10-3

Premiership Odds: $8

The season may have ended with an embarrassing loss at the hands of the West Coast Eagles, but there were still a huge number of positives to take out 2018 for Melbourne. They showed that they were capable of taking the next step and anything less than a top four finish would be considered a disappointment this season. No team scored more points than the Demons last season and the acquisition of Steven May rounds out what is now a stellar defensive unit. Max Gawn went to another level last season and is the premiere ruckmen in the competition and the loss of Jesse Hogan is not a huge one. It is hard to find a weak link in this side and there is no doubt that they can continue their progression.

North Melbourne

2018 Finish: 9th

2019 Predicted Finish: 9th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 12-10

Home: 7-4

Away: 5-6

Against The Line

Overall: 12-10

Home: 7-4

Away: 5-6

Premiership Odds: $26

They may not have made the finals, but North Melbourne still defied expectations last season and they should be in the finals mix once again. It has been no secret that North Melbourne have attempted to brand themselves as a destination club in recent years and they have managed to add a fair amount of talent in the offseason. Jared Polec adds a spark to their midfield and he will take some of the pressure off Shaun Higgins. Their defence is as solid as they come and Ben Brown might be the most consistent forward in the competition. The big issue for North Melbourne is depth and they will be in trouble if any of their big names goes down with an injury. If they can stay injury-free they should be in the finals mix and they should produce another solid, yet unspectacular season.

Port Adelaide

2018 Finish: 10th

2019 Predicted Finish: 13th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 12-10

Home: 7-4

Away: 5-6

Against The Line

Overall: 8-14

Home: 5-6

Away: 3-8

Premiership Odds: $26

There is no coach in the AFL under more pressure than Ken Hinkley and I would be surprised if he was their head coach in 2020. The Power looked a team on the rise when Hinkley first came into the job, but they have dropped off badly in recent seasons and they were one of the biggest underperformers in the competition 12 months ago. Their list is probably worse than it was last year and they have not recruited anybody to fill the shoes of Chad Wingard and Jared Polec. Their recruitment class of 2017, led by Tom Rockliff, flopped badly last season and they will need to improve considerably. Scott Lycett is a handy acquisition and their ruck stock does look strong, while Justin Westhoff and Charlie Dixon are a strong forward combination. The Power have the talent to be a contender, but it is tough to see them being able to pull it all together for 23 rounds.

Richmond

2018 Finish: 1st (Lost Preliminary Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: Premiers

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 19-5

Home: 12-1

Away: 7-4

Against The Line

Overall: 13-11

Home: 7-6

Away: 6-5

Premiership Odds: $4.50

Richmond were clearly the best side in the competition in 2018 and they really should have been able to secure back-to-back flags. There is plenty of Geelong in 2009 about this Tigers outfit and there is no doubt that they are the side to beat once again. Aside from one bad game in the preliminary final, the Tigers were close to flawless last season and the scary thing is that they could be even better this year. Tom Lynch adds another level to their forward line and he adds a huge amount of security, if Jack Riewoldt was to go down with an injury. The new 6-6-6 rule is expected to be a disadvantage for Richmond as they did generally play with a man behind the ball last season and Damien Hardwick will need to make some subtle changes, but they do have the talent to do just that. Dustin Martin was never really fully fit last season and is primed to return to his best, while their defence, led by Alex Rance, remains an outstanding unit. Anything less than another premiership will be considered a disappointment for Richmond and they are definitely the team to beat.

St Kilda

2018 Finish: 16th

2019 Predicted Finish: 14th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 4-18

Home: 2-9

Away: 2-9

Against The Line

Overall: 9-13

Home: 4-7

Away: 5-6

Premiership Odds: $81

2018 was an enormous setback for St Kilda. The club looked to be heading in the right direction after a couple of quality seasons in 2016 and 2017, but the wheels completely fell off last season. They won only one match in the first 12 rounds of the season and they played some truly pathetic football. Recruitment has definitely been an issue in recent years and the decision to gift a long-term contract to the injury-prone Dan Hannebery has been a controversial one. The main problem for the Saints is that they really do lack star quality right across the field and Alan Richardson simply isn’t a good enough coach to make do with what he has at his disposal. The Saints do have an easy draw and that should ensure that they stay out of the wooden spoon mix, but they are nowhere near good enough to play finals football.

Sydney

2018 Finish: 6th (Lost Elimination Final)

2019 Predicted Finish: 12th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 14-9

Home: 5-7

Away: 9-2

Against The Line

Overall: 9-14

Home: 2-10

Away: 7-4

Premiership Odds: $17

Is this the year that Sydney finally fall out of the top eight? Sydney looked like premiership contenders for about a month last season, but they were embarrassed in the opening week of the finals by the GWS Giants. A few impressive wins probably made the Swans look better than they were last season and they had easily the worst percentage of any of the sides in the top eight, while scoring points was an issue. Being a mediocre side was enough to qualify for the finals in 2018, but I am not sure that will be the case in 2019 and if the Swans don’t improve, a finals berth does look unlikely. The issues is that it is tough to see where this improvement will come from. They do have some young talent, but this is definitely an ageing list with a slow midfield. The Swans have made a habit of making their doubters look silly, but this might be the year that their overachieving catches up with them.

West Coast Eagles

2018 Finish: Premiers

2019 Predicted Finish: 3rd

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 19-6

Home: 11-3

Away: 8-3

Against The Line

Overall: 18-7

Home: 10-4

Away: 8-3

Premiership Odds: $7.50

They won a premiership without their star midfield and ruckmen, so it is scary to think what the West Coast Eagles might be able to do in 2019. Their season looked over when they lost both Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui in the space of a fortnight, but they produced an incredible finals campaign to claim an unlikely premiership. Their incredible record at home means that the West Coast Eagles are always thereabouts and, thanks to a soft draw, they should probably be on the top of the table after ten rounds. The issue for the Eagles is the fact that a stack of players are coming off career-best seasons and that can often be tough to replicate. The likes of Liam Ryan and Willi Rioli were enormous for the Eagles last season and they can’t afford to have a sophomore slump if the Eagles are going to be in the mix again. That said, they might be able to go to another level with more experience under their belt and that is surely a scary thought for the Eagles premiership rivals.

Western Bulldogs

2018 Finish: 13th

2019 Predicted Finish: 15th

2018 Betting Statistics

Head To Head

Overall: 8-14

Home: 5-6

Away: 3-8

Against The Line

Overall: 8-14

Home: 5-6

Away: 3-8

Premiership Odds: $41

How long does a premiership hangover last? The Western Bulldogs have not played finals football since their shock premiership win in 2016 and that looks unlikely to change this season. The Bulldogs are still a fairly young side and still have the majority of their premiership side on their list, but it is fair to say that plenty of their list has gone backwards since 2016. They don’t have a particularly well-balanced side and coach Luke Beveridge is almost OCD when it comes to changing the exact make-up of his side. That clearly paid dividends in 2016, but has caused more harm than good in the past couple of seasons. It is tough to know what to make of the Bulldogs at the moment and it could be another season of disappointment for their fans.