Neither Gold Coast nor Melbourne look like world-beaters Saturday, and Sydney and Essendon showed a similar lack of polish on Friday night.
In the end Carlton was completely outclassed over the last few minutes by a Collingwood side that knew it was a cut above them and could simply flip the switch, as they did.
None of those five teams are going to do any damage in the finals if indeed any of them make it at all, but I’ll watch them play any day if they play as hard as they did this weekend.
Because what is it we’re looking for from our sports clubs, individuals, national teams or our own progeny playing youth sports? Effort!
What frustrates me more than anything is a lack of effort. It was much harder to watch Collingwood than it was Carlton, because you could tell the Blues were working hard. Sure, the Magpies were seven-goal favourites, so they figured they could play the game in second gear and still win, but guess what? It turns out they can’t beat these Blues in second gear; they had to turn Jordan de Goey and Jaidyn Stephenson and Scott Pendlebury loose to take the four points.
And while these Navy Blues are still 1-7, there’s a completely different sense about them – in fact it doesn’t seem as if there’s any team in the league that can be guaranteed to roll over for a supposed 46-point favourite this season. Nobody gets a walkover in any game.
Which is just how I like it.
Here are this week’s games.
Neither team makes me comfortable. The Eagles are not only average, but they’re unpredictably average both home and away. The Demons are terrible, but they’re 2-0 interstate. I’m taking the Eagles to win but Melbourne to cover, and then I’ll cover. (My eyes, that is.)
Boy, I still think there’s life in these Saints, but the Pies learnt a lesson – I hope! – about taking an opponent for granted last Saturday and should put the hammer down as swiftly as they can manage. Take your cue from De Goey and Stephenson, boys, because the Saints will not go down in the fourth as Carlton did. Still, Collingwood plus the points.
Yeah, I hate to say it, but the Crows are better and they’re riding a four-game streak of proving it. Crows plus two goals, as much as I want to tip the Lions here.
Geelong of course. Although I’d love to see Aaron Naughton find a niche in that stellar Geelong backline and grab another nine contested, let Marcus Bontempelli do what Marcus Bontempelli does and see if they can keep the pressure on the Cats for four quarters. Still, I’m taking Geelong and the points, because I don’t see that back six denting.
I’m not sure what Bombers games they’re watching, but I don’t see Essendon as a better team than Fremantle right now. Unless the ninth-game switch is about to be flipped – and a one-season precedent isn’t all that reliable – I’ll take Fremantle outright. Home-field advantage hasn’t meant much to either team so far in 2019.
Which team do I have more faith in? Honestly, Sydney, in the sense they’ve played eight games that have all been bottom-six level. North’s played six bad games with two ‘where did that come from?’ games against Adelaide and Carlton to account for their wins. Do we know when those will show up? No, but this is their first game in the fortress known as Blundstone Arena, and on that basis alone I’ll take the Kangaroos. And when the spread’s less than a goal, you might as well take the points too.
I’m sorry, but this season I can’t take the cardiac Suns and bet in any way that expects something besides the kind of ending we got against Melbourne last weekend. Port to win but Suns somehow cover. It’s not like Port’s consistently good or anything like that.
Hawthorn has the best coach of the 21st century. Unfortunately he’s right when he says he has a “middle-of-the-road” team – they’ve had two highly mediocre wins against possibly the two worst teams in Carlton and North and two wins where they got lucky their opponents were atrocious that day in Adelaide and GWS. (Prove me wrong.) Meanwhile, Richmond’s winning with back-ups that would’ve been starting all along for the Hawks. Richmond covers easily.
Greater Western Sydney
The Giants come up with stinker games like last week’s more often than any other good side does. However, they never emit odours like that twice in a row unless there’s something fundamentally wrong. expect Jeremy Cameron to kick a bag and make up for lost time in the Coleman race while the Giants cover by late third quarter.
Oddsmakers: six from nine last week, 43 from 72 overall.
ELO-Following Football: seven from, 46 from 72 overall.
Percentage/home-field advantage system: This managed a measly four from nine and fell to 38 from 72 for the season.
The Buffalo didn’t make up any ground either, hitting only four from nine and sitting at just 32 for the year, so if you’re trusting me for betting advice, you’ll get what you’ve paid for. Gamble more responsibly than that, please!