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AFL Round 4-casts

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Roar Guru
10th April, 2019

If you flipped a coin, had your six-month-old choose teams by red or blue coloured bottles, or picked the teams whose mascots most resembled the random Wikipedia entry chosen for the game, you’d most likely have hit either 13 or 14 of the 27 games played so far in the AFL season 2019.

You’d also be doing better than the majority of punters who’ve tried to pick games on merit and knowledge. Congratulations.

After three rounds, the Buffalo is up to 13, so I’ve finally reached the level of your six-month-old. The ELO-Following Football system is also at 13, while the hyper-simple “percentage/home field” system (pick the team with the higher percentage; if they’re within ten points, take the home team) is at 14 correct, so perhaps it’s ascended to coin-flip level.

So, we try and try again. Besides the Buffalo picks, the choices for the odds-makers, the ELO-Following Football rating system choices, and the percentage/home field system pick are presented, as is the Meta-Rating, which is the standardised average of eight different mathematical rating systems we monitor.

Thursday night: Sydney vs Melbourne
Positions: Melbourne (0-3, 18th; Meta-Rating: 53.90, 10th, down 1 from last week). Sydney (1-2, 12th; Meta-Rating: 49.54, 12th, no change from last week)
The oddsmakers say: Sydney by 4.5.
ELO-FF says: Melbourne by 2.5
The percentage/HFA system says: the Swans for both reasons.
The Buffalo says: Sydney showed some signs of life last week. They were what I expected to see – a team with some old players and some young players, trying to mine value out of Lance Franklin’s later years as well as Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills’ early ones.

Melbourne, on the other hand, is not at all what we expected. Well, their forwards are, but their defence is still on holiday. Of course, at some point that will change, and we’ll see an Essendon Round 9 game from last year, or a Sydney Round 7 from two years back, when they finally get their butts in gear and realise they’re wasting a great season.


Will that be this week? I don’t know. Don’t bet that way, though. Pick Sydney until you see a sign of life from the Demons.

Friday night: Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs, MCG

Positions: Western Bulldogs (2-1, 5th; Meta-Rating: 45.26, 13th, down 1). Collingwood (1-2, 11th; Meta-Rating: 67.65, 4th, down 2).
The oddsmakers say: Magpies by 29.5
ELO-FF says: Magpies by 34.
The percentage/HFA system says: Magpies, because their percentages are only seven points apart, not ten.
The Buffalo says: All nine games are good match-ups on paper, and this one is much better than the numbers indicate.

The Bulldogs came within a goal against an equally resurgent team from being 3-0, while Collingwood is not evidentially better, given larger losses to two admittedly better teams, plus a lone victory over a two-star depleted Richmond squad. I’m still tipping Collingwood out of habit, but I’m preferring the Bulldogs and the points.

Saturday afternoon: Geelong vs GWS, GMHBA Stadium

Positions: GWS (2-1, 4th; Meta-Rating: 69.48, 3rd place, up 2). Geelong (3-0, 1st place; Meta-Rating: 80.09, 1st place, no change).
The oddsmakers say: 19 ½ points Geelong’s direction.
ELO-FF says: 12 ½ points Geelong’s way.
The percentage/HFA system says: Cats at home.
The Buffalo says: Boy, I wish I had the confidence to take the Giants here. All the metrics trend towards the top-ranked, top-rated, top-of-the-ladder Cats, but watching the two games where they didn’t have to fly across the country to play the defending premiers, it’s hard to see the personnel match-ups not favouring the charcoal-and-orange.

Brett Deledio

Brett Deledio of the Giants. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The only reason I’m taking Geelong in this game (and I don’t even have the guts to bet the points here) is that they’ve proven me wrong three weeks in a row, and the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.


Saturday afternoon: Essendon vs Brisbane, MCG

Positions: Brisbane (3-0, 2nd place; Meta-Rating: 56.06, 8th, up 2). Essendon (1-2, 15th; Meta-Rating: 53.48, 11th, up 2).
The oddsmakers say: “Hey, either our minds are peanut-sized, or we think our bettors’ minds are, because we’ve set the line in Essendon’s favour by one-and-a-half points.”
ELO-FF says: “Hey, we may have too much of last year’s efforts left residual in our rating system, because we see this as a six-point game in the Bombers’ favour.”
The percentage/HFA system says: “You’re both insane. Brisbane.”
The Buffalo says: Essendon looked unforgivably unprofessional in the first two rounds, and if you beat the current spoon favourite by a couple of goals, have you really redeemed yourself yet?

Meanwhile, Brisbane has put on three superb exhibitions of mature football that make a let-down against an inferior opponent the only fear I have of them. So if the oddsmakers are favouring the Dons just to put some fire in the Brisbane players’ bellies, thank you, lads. Brisbane by however much focus they have in this game.

Saturday twilight: Port Adelaide vs Richmond, Adelaide Oval

Positions: Richmond (1-2, 14th; Meta-Rating: 60.47, 6th, down 2). Port Adelaide (2-1, 8th; 57.29, no change).
The oddsmakers say: Port by 12.5
ELO-FF says: Port by one, because (see previous entry).
The percentage/HFA system says: Port Adelaide.
The Buffalo says: As Dustin Martin was (rightfully) given a week to reconsider his role model status and the emotional mistakes he made last week, Richmond will be without Martin, Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt.

If the Power can’t beat the almost-VFL version of the Tigers, they aren’t the team I think they are after two strong wins and a highly honourable loss to Brisbane at the Gabba. Power plus the points.

Having said that, now’s the perfect time for the ensemble to step up for the yellow and black and prove that Richmond is more than the big four. C’mon, men – it’s literally up to you to save the season!

Saturday night: North Melbourne vs Adelaide, Marvel Stadium


Positions: Adelaide (1-2, 13th; Meta-Rating: 55.80, 9th, down 1). North Melbourne (0-3, 17th; Meta-Rating: 39.65, 15th, no change).
The oddsmakers say: Adelaide by 8 ½.
ELO-FF says: Crows by 17.
The percentage/HFA system says: North has problems that being at home won’t mask. Adelaide.
The Buffalo says: Compared to the two blockbusters last Saturday night, these two might not be worth my staying up for. They’ll be on at 3:30 am, US Mountain time. It’s a struggle.

Josh Jenkins

Josh Jenkins of the Crows. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Speaking of which, the struggle between Adelaide’s forwards and the Kangaroos’ back line may resemble the 0-2 slugfests of last week (yawn). But the Crows should be able to stop North on the other end, and they’ll win more of the midfield, so I’ll take Adelaide and the points, please.

Saturday night: West Coast vs Fremantle, Optus Stadium

Positions: Fremantle (2-1, 3rd place; Meta-Rating: 40.99, 14th, no change). West Coast (2-1, 6th; Meta-Rating: 71.51, 2nd place, up 1).
The oddsmakers say: Eagles by 31.5
ELO-FF says: Eagles by almost 38.
The percentage/HFA system says: Believe it or not, Fremantle, because they’ve got a significantly better percentage.
The Buffalo says: Time to gain one on the percentage system! With Fyfe probably out, this one will Fly High from start to finish. West Coast plus the points.

Sunday afternoon: Gold Coast vs Carlton, Metricon Stadium

Positions: Carlton (0-3, 16th; Meta-Rating: 19.05, 18th, no change). Gold Coast (2-1, 9th; Meta-Rating: 26.00; 17th, no change).
The oddsmakers say: Gold Coast by 4.5
ELO-FF says: Gold Coast by six.
The percentage/HFA system says: Suns as well.
The Buffalo says: Unlike the wooden spoon battle we all expected, this will be a match-up of two significantly improved teams on Sunday. Carlton’s growth has been obvious in all three games, and they deserve a win under their name by now.

They undoubtedly regret that they were the only team who will have faced Richmond at full strength all year.


But the biggest surprise team of all is unquestionably the Suns, who have done exactly what their Queensland brethren have done – build cohesiveness in the year together that shows in their teamwork on the field across the zones. They probably deserve to be undefeated right now, and they should go to 3-1 after a victory over an unlucky Carlton club.

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Sunday afternoon: St Kilda vs Hawthorn, Marvel Stadium

Positions: Hawthorn (2-1, 7th; Meta-Rating: 60.86, 5th, up 1). St Kilda (2-1, 10th; Meta-Rating: 38.88, 16th, no change).
The oddsmakers say: Hawthorn by 19.5
ELO-FF says: Hawthorn by just under 11.
The percentage/HFA system says: St Kilda.
The Buffalo says: This is where I’m swinging for the six runs. St Kilda has had far fewer weak quarters and dead spots than the Hawks have, and at home I’m counting on that to give the Saints the edge and watch them officially declare themselves a threat for finals. Saints to win outright.

Record last week: The percentage/HFA system was only 5-4; the Buffalo and the ELO-FF system were both 6-3.
Overall: As I said at the beginning, the percentage/HFA is 14-13, while the Buffalo and ELO-FF are at 13-14. Tied with the six-month-old and the coin flip.