A stunning run through September saw the Giants make their first grand final last year, before they were obliterated by the all-conquering Tigers.
This is the hardest thing to do – to pinpoint where every team is.
The best way to do this was to see how each team has travelled after the Marsh Series and much as I did in 2019, here are the predictions of where I think the teams will finish the 2020 season.
1. West Coast (19-3) 132.2 per cent
The Eagles will be the team to beat for most of the season. They got it right with Tim Kelly, who was needed in the side after a dismal finals showing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles made it to the final Saturday in September and played off again for another chance at a premiership. Fun fact – West Coast have always won a flag on the even years, not the odd years.
2. Richmond (18-4) 121.0 per cent
The Tigers will look to hopefully go back to back. Don’t get me wrong, they will be hard to beat, this side under Damien Hardwick is the best they’ve ever looked heading into the new season.
Richmond should make it to the grand final, but as you’ll see some sides underneath that could potentially derail the Tiger Train.
3. Western Bulldogs (18-4) 115.0 per cent
They are one of the sides that will create plenty of headaches and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020. The Doggies are my premiership favourites and will claim their second flag in four years.
They got it right at the trade table with bringing in Josh Bruce who is another great target alongside Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd. Alex Keath solves their depth problem, and they will cause a few upsets in 2020.
4. Brisbane Lions (17-5) 114.2 per cent
Brisbane will claim their second straight top-four finish and Chris Fagan’s men are in very good hands heading into the brand new season. Eric Hipwood will be up there to win the Coleman medal and the Lions could have a better September after learning a lesson on how to handle themselves better than they did last season.
5. Melbourne (17-5) 113.3 per cent
Melbourne will be the other big improvers in 2020. I had them high up last season after a fantastic 2018 and I was hoping to see the red and blue claim some silverware.
The Demons will bounce back after a dismal 2019 season which mirrored most of this century and will begin to challenge the top teams again.
6. GWS (16-6) 112.9 per cent
GWS will be the big sliders. They’ll still make finals but they won’t have as big of an impact as last season – making it all the way to the grand final and coming up short against the Tigers.
Injuries are again hampering Leon Cameron’s men and this could be the Achilles heel for them at the start, as I can see them dropping in and out of the top eight for most of the season.
7. Geelong (14-8) 103.6 per cent
The Cats will again not feature anywhere deeper than an elimination finals appearance, which is a sad end for Gary Ablett’s distinguished career. Geelong will just slide into the finals after tussling with Carlton, Collingwood, Sydney, Hawthorn and St Kilda for most of it towards the latter part of the season.
I can’t see them getting past GWS in week one of the finals at Spotless.
8. Hawthorn (13-9) 102.8 per cent
Hawthorn will make finals and the return of Tom Mitchell will definitely be part of the plan for Alastair Clarkson’s men to see September action. I would love to see a mouthwatering elimination final between Melbourne and Hawthorn week one, but I can see the Demons edging the Hawks.
9. Collingwood (12-10) 103.0 per cent
After the shock loss in the preliminary final against GWS, you would think Nathan Buckley’s men should feature in the finals and try to go one better to join Carlton and Essendon in the elusive 16 club – think again.
Collingwood’s team doesn’t make me buy into the hype of them being premiership favourites and I can see them sliding out of the top eight. They’re still missing grit through the midfield and the forward line isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
10. Carlton (11-11) 99.2 per cent
This will be an improved year for the Blues but it might be a tough start, with a few names out of the best 22. If they keep the list healthy this might be the year to see Carlton away from the bottom four and getting ever so close to tasting September football again.
It won’t be in 2020, but it definitely should be on the cards in 2021 with a talented list under coach David Teague.
11. Sydney (11-11) 92.7 per cent
Sydney will be wanting to pretend last season didn’t happen with an improved season under John Longmire and even if Buddy Franklin doesn’t star in most of these games you can easily rely on Tom Papley, who should be continuing the good work he did in 2019.
12. St Kilda (9-13) 96.5 per cent
The Saints have done well bringing in five important players to the team under new coach Brett Ratten. It will take a year for the side to gel properly.
St Kilda should play finals football in 2021, but I think this year will be a trying one for the team at Moorabbin and given the time, you’ll be in good hands under a smooth operator like Ratten.
13. North Melbourne (6-16) 92.1 per cent
The honeymoon period for Rhyce Shaw is over, and it’ll be a tough year for the boys from Arden Street. With an ageing list and a crop of young players coming through it’ll be frustrating for Roo supporters, but at least it’s progress in the right direction.
14. Port Adelaide (5-17) 90.2 per cent
Port will sack Ken Hinkley before the end of the season. Port Adelaide, unfortunately, won’t be seeing finals football and unfortunately for Kenny – who is one of the good guys of football – a swift change in the coaching ranks won’t see him survive.
I still believe Michael Voss will coach Port Adelaide and David Koch has his eyes on the former Lion champion to take over the reins.
15. Essendon (5-17) 87.4 per cent
We will see Ben Rutten come in as senior coach prematurely. John Worsfold won’t get sacked, I can see him stepping down as coach in the middle of the season and become a mentor in the box for the remainder of the season while Rutten begins to put together his gameplans, which he will carry on into 2021.
It’ll be a long season for Bomber supporters, especially as we know Joe Daniher won’t be donning the sash beyond 2020 and will walk to the Swans in the offseason.
16. Gold Coast (3-19) 80.7 per cent
They are bringing in some experience and the young players will shine for the Suns in 2020. They won’t move much up the ladder, but will be very competitive in most games this season and would definitely win back a lot of fans who believe the Gold Coast experiment failed.
Matt Rowell will win the rising star.
17. Fremantle (2-20) 83.4 per cent
The first season under Justin Longmuir won’t see much progress, unfortunately. Fremantle will be down the bottom of the ladder in 2020.
They’ve had to rebuild after the Ross Lyon era and are a team who has been working hard in all their departments. Give Longmuir time to nurture the youngsters coming through, including Lachie Schultz and Caleb Serong, who look to be stars in the making.
18. Adelaide (2-20) 78.2 per cent
If you want to talk about falls from graces in sport – Adelaide join Leeds United and Portsmouth in that category. Adelaide saw a massive downfall after the 2017 grand final and unfortunately the team hasn’t recovered since.
They will continue to struggle especially with an exodus of players during the off-season.
Matthew Nicks has a long way to go to make Adelaide great again, and it’ll take some time for the Crows to climb back up the ladder. This could potentially be almost like the Carlton of the mid 2010s and they will rebuild the hard way.
Carlton’s Patrick Cripps, edging out Dustin Martin and Lachie Neale.
Tom Lynch (69 goals).
Rising star winner
Matt Rowell (GC).
Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and Hawthorn.
Collingwood, Essendon and Adelaide.
Biggest news story
The Adelaide board sacks their entire football department.