We’re flying towards the finish line in this year’s home-and-away season.
It feels like we should only be about halfway through the campaign, but instead we find ourselves with just seven rounds to tip until finals get underway.
As clubs step up their pursuit of a finals spot, it’s time for us tipsters to start taking risks as we jostle for the coveted crown come season’s end.
All four us – the three experts and you lot – scored six points on the weekend, a week after we all scored five. If I’m reading this right, that means Round 20 will be a historic occasion as we all notch perfect scores.
Melbourne, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, West Coast
It’s nice when a round kicks off with a genuine blockbuster. Ben Brown is back as the wobbly Demons look to correct course against the flaky Power.
For all the panic – which is admittedly understandable given Melbourne’s recent history – the Demons are still in second with 12 wins and three losses that have come at an average margin of just eight points.
They’ve had their issues coming up against teams they have no business being troubled by, but Port Adelaide just haven’t been there against the best sides. Demons by 20.
The Bombers aren’t travelling quite as well as the plaudits they’ve been getting suggest, but that’s nothing compared to an Adelaide side who have won just two from their last 11, both by less than a kick.
Both clubs seem to be generally headed in the right direction, but Essendon are well ahead and should win this one comfortably.
Launceston is no longer the imperious fortress it once was for the Hawks. They’ve lost three of their last four games at York Park and are in serious danger of dropping three in a row for the first time since 2005.
Fremantle were bitterly disappointing against Carlton last week, but their own goal kicking played a fairly big role in that. I’ll back them to bounce back.
No Jeremy Cameron shouldn’t really be an issue for the Cats. They won a minor premiership and reached a grand final without him quite recently if I remember correctly.
Carlton will smell blood, but Geelong should get the points.
St Kilda must have spent the offseason watching nothing but ice hockey, because they’ve played only three quarters all year. That may have been okay against Collingwood, but it won’t cut it against Brisbane.
For Sunday’s first game, you sometimes just have to roll the dice in life. Greater Western Sydney have lost to Hawthorn, drawn with North Melbourne and beaten Melbourne inside the last month. Why wouldn’t you tip the Suns to knock them off? Don’t answer that question.
Sydney’s 92-point win may have been stunning to watch as a Swans fan, but the analyst in me knows it was West Coast’s poor form that did the heavy lifting. The Bulldogs are a class above and should get the job done.
The last two games are fairly straightforward: Richmond should finally pull their finger out and down the Magpies, while West Coast will take their embarrassment and anger out on the hapless Kangaroos at home.
Shoe-In of the Week goes to Brisbane over the Saints, however.
Melbourne, Essendon, Hawthorn, Carlton, Brisbane, GWS Giants, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, West Coast
A couple of early-round upsets had us all on edge before the round settled down into its more predictable state.
The beauty of everyone tipping the same teams meant there was no pressure on yours truly heading into the weekend, giving another opportunity to take the lead one of two ways in Round 17.
The Demons have generally played well against the best teams and have dropped off against the worst teams, while Port are enjoying a friendlier fixture with some key home games sprinkled in between.
It seemed inevitable people would question the legitimacy of Melbourne eventually, but I certainly won’t. They’re a top-four team and I’ll back them in again this week.
It’s true that we need to settle down on the Bombers, but it’s also true that if they wanted to be a team that exceeds even the grandest of expectations, they have the fixture to do it. A prime-time win is a good start.
With their worst goal kicking conversion since 2011, sitting at 46 per cent accuracy, it’s hard to see Fremantle now making finals with their run home. A Tassie game at this stage hurts them.
This is the first time since 2010 that Carlton and Geelong are meeting at the MCG. It seems like there’s at least one weekly upset on the cards in the AFL. I think McKay is too big for Geelong’s defence, and Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones have one less star to worry about in defence.
After all the crazy talk, St Kilda are just one game outside the eight. I think Alastair Clarkson should look at this club very closely to take over at some point. But the Lions will be my flag tip until they’re out, so this should be easy enough.
Hopefully a few go and check out the Giants and Suns, with a GWS win incoming. Bulldogs and Swans might be the most exciting fixture of the weekend – the trends indicate the home team should sneak over the line at Marvel.
No-one thought we’d see Richmond and Collingwood play a Sunday twilight game, but that’s just how they’re travelling. The Tigers have been woeful in the past two weeks, and I pledged to stop tipping them to limit the self-inflicted pain, but here I go again.
Finally, West Coast’s efforts away from home have been nauseating. Expect a big response on Monday night.
Melbourne, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Brisbane, GWS Giants, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, West Coast
There are some good games shaping up this week. That usually means we’ll see one, two or three upsets, but that’s what makes tipping fun, right? Right?
We’ll get to the obvious highlight of the week in a second, but for brevity let’s go through some of the easier games first. The venue remains ‘TBC’ as I type this, but no matter where it’s played, even a slightly rejuvenated Saints side won’t be beating an in-form Brisbane outfit.
On that theme, the Suns were superb against the Tigers last week, but a promise of finals has the Giants enthused beyond any measure. The Ballarat setting is a weird wildcard, but GWS will be winning.
Despite North continually punching above their weight of late, a prime-time encounter with a horrid West Coast side is a worry. The result will belie recent form: the Eagles should comfortably win this in a brief reprieve from their recent mediocrity.
Richmond should do the same. The Pies have been pretty poor of late, and the Tigers will be absolutely backs-to-the-wall determined to win.
Essendon taking on the Crows is an intriguing Friday night encounter but an important one for the Bombers. They can garner the four points to truly stay in contention for the finals with a win here – and win they should, given the Crows’ recent dramatic drop in form.
The Blues remain alive given their upset over Freo last week. While this game is seen as a speed bump before an easier run of matches, I remain uninspired by their recent form.
They have failed to beat a single top eight side this year and, even without Jeremy Cameron, Geelong should be winning – barring an upset like last year.
Freo, given that aforementioned loss, desperately need to win over the Hawks. If they don’t, their finals dream is dead and buried. The Tasmanian venue is a huge alarm bell – they’re 1-11 in games on the island – but they’re a more cohesive side than Hawthorn, and I’m hesitantly backing them here.
Both the Bulldogs and Swans had superb wins last week. There’s no Aaron Naughton for the home side, so I am hopeful there’s a debut handed to Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. My hope aside, this feels like a match that’ll be close. I’ll blindly back the Dogs.
And yes, the big one: tonight’s Port versus Melbourne clash. The Power were in cruise control last week against the Hawks, whereas the Dees had an upset loss.
It’s that upset that opens the door for the Power. The Dees looked uncharacteristically messy in the midfield, and the Power are sure to try and exploit that.
There’s been some talk about the ground benefiting Port, but both teams have won five of their last seven clashes in Adelaide.
The Dees will be wanting to bounce back, and I’ll back them – I can’t trust the Power here.
|PA vs MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||PA|
|ESS vs ADE||ESS||ESS||ESS||ESS|
|HAW vs FRE||FRE||HAW||FRE||FRE|
|CAR vs GEE||GEE||CAR||GEE||GEE|
|BL vs STK||BL||BL||BL||BL|
|GWS vs GCS||GCS||GWS||GWS||GWS|
|WB vs SYD||WB||WB||WB||WB|
|RCH vs COL||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH|
|WCE vs NM||WCE||WCE||WCE||WCE|