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Who makes the top eight in 2024 - and why the Pies are still the team to beat

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Roar Rookie
9th March, 2024
11
1138 Reads

Collingwood

Last year: 1st (18-5)
Ladder prediction: 1st (20-3)

They’re at the top for a reason. Premiers last season, Collingwood look to go back-to-back for the first time in 90 years and there’s no reason why they can’t. It will be interesting to see how the Pies will go from hunters to hunted in 2024, but I still believe Craig McRae’s men will be there on the last day of the season, and with the Magpie Army packing out the MCG every other week, it’ll be an intimidating venue for the opposition.

Some extra firepower in the forward line will do wonders for Collingwood when Dan McStay comes back mid-year. Nick Daicos will look to avenge his Brownlow shortcomings this season with a dominant year and is my clear favourite for the gong.

Brisbane

Last year: 2nd (17-6)
Ladder prediction: 2nd (20-3)

A kick away from footy’s ultimate glory, Brisbane look to return to the MCG on the final day in September. They lost some key players through retirement and trades, but were able to fill their needs in defence through the signing of Tom Doedee.

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They are clearly going to win a majority of their games at the Gabba and look to rectify a few results interstate that could’ve gone the other way, like Adelaide at Adelaide and Hawthorn at the MCG. The midfield mix alone should push the team to a high placing on the ladder, whilst the defensive stocks are still strong. However, they will need forward Eric Hipwood to be firing on all cylinders to be a more dominant team. Look for Keidean Coleman to have a breakout year off of the half-back line.

Melbourne

Last year: 4th (16-7)
Ladder prediction: 3rd (18-5)

A second consecutive year of being knocked out in straight sets, Melbourne are under the media’s close watch after having an offseason from hell. Their list has taken some hits, losing four premiership players, specifically Angus Brayshaw, who they will miss deeply off the half-back line.

Bayley Fritsch celebrates a goal.

Bayley Fritsch. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

They made a focus of solidifying their forward depth through trades for Jack Billings, Shane McAdam and Tom Fullarton. Look out for Caleb Windsor early as a front-runner for Rising Star. It could also be a huge year for Clayton Oliver to redeem himself after a horrid offseason, but I feel he, and the rest of the Melbourne list has the talent regardless to push for a deep finals run. They must win a final to show that they’re still a team to be reckoned with in September. The Dees will win a large amount of games at the MCG and I think that they have the pedigree to win games interstate.

Adelaide

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Last year: 10th (11-12)
Ladder prediction: 4th (17-6)

The Crows controversially missed out on the eight last season, but were victims of their own poor kicking throughout the season. Another preseason under the belt will have done wonders for their younger players, and they have made decent acquisitions with Daniel Curtin and Chris Burgess.

Adelaide’s defensive stocks have been stretched thin through injuries to Nick Murray and Mark Keane and the departure of Tom Doedee, which will cause them some headaches if the defensive unit cannot work cohesively. They are a powerhouse at home, so look for a lot of wins at Adelaide Oval, but they have some games interstate that they are also favourites to win. They will certainly need to work on away results but it comes down to the willpower of the playing group. The Crows could easily slide down to fifth or sixth but I have the belief that the squad has developed enough to make a push for finals, if not, the season will certainly be a failure.

Sydney

Last year: 8th (12-10-1)
Ladder prediction: 5th (17-6)

The Swans suffered somewhat from a Grand Final hangover, but look to bounce back this season with new recruits trying to rejuvenate their career. The young Sydney midfield will be causing headaches for their opponents who don’t prepare for them, and the forward line will be one to watch now that Buddy Franklin is no longer around.

Christian Salem reacts to pressure from Brodie Grundy and Isaac Heeney.

Christian Salem reacts to pressure from Brodie Grundy and Isaac Heeney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Logan McDonald is certainly one to watch for me as a focal point in the attack along with a strong supporting cast surrounding him with the likes of Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley. The red and the white will look to make the SCG a fortress and I believe that they will secure many wins interstate against weaker teams. I have them finishing on the same amount of points as Adelaide so easily could be a top four side depending on their percentage. The time is now for Sydney to return to the latter stages of the final, and winning a final will be the expectation for the Swans in 2024.

Port Adelaide

Last year: 3rd (17-6)
Ladder prediction: 6th (15-8)

Port had a disappointing end to 2023 after a 13-game winning streak mid-season, and a disappointing finals campaign which saw them knocked out in straight sets. However, the Power identified their weakness in defence and recruited Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher to fill the gaps.

There’s a reason that Adelaide Oval is called “Portress”, and Port will be looking to win a majority of their games at home even against some solid opponents. I still have questions regarding their performances interstate and overall leadership, I feel the appointment of Connor Rozee was a bit too early but he is still a star player nonetheless. Their midfield talent is one of the best in the competition and should carry them to a few wins. Look out for Jason Horne-Francis to emerge as one of the elite midfielders of the year in his third season; he oozes talent and grunt that will have Port fans salivating come Round 1.

Carlton

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Last year: 5th (13-9-1)
Ladder prediction: 7th (16-7)

A bittersweet end to the 2023 season falling 16 points short of a Grand Final appearance, Carlton will want to repeat their efforts and make a huge statement in 2024. The Baggers lost a little bit of depth across the board with delistings and retirements, but still have talent enough to be one of the final eight teams.

They recruited medium-sized forwards to complement their two key forwards Curnow and McKay. The talent through the middle with Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra speaks for itself and will propel the Blues to many wins throughout the season, but it will be difficult to start the season with injuries to Walsh and Jacob Weitering keeping them out for the near future. Carlton will definitely be challenged early in 2024, especially by the teams inside the eight, and if they are able to win some of those 50/50 games then they should easily find themselves at the top half of the ladder when it matters.

GWS

Last year: 7th (13-10)
Ladder prediction: 8th (14-9)

The Giants ended 2023 as heavy underdogs, winning two away finals against St Kilda and Port Adelaide respectively and then going within one point of reaching the grand final in the prelim against Collingwood. This season they’ll be right around where they were last year. They haven’t brought in any players of any significance, which I feel will hold them back in terms of depth, as they lost former captain Phil Davis to retirement and ruck depth piece Matt Flynn after a trade to West Coast.

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I have a hard time identifying where GWS are at as a club, are they top four material or are they on the fringes fighting for a spot in the eight? I believe it is the latter. I just think the list doesn’t have enough depth to cover any injuries that may arise, but there are a lot of bright spots throughout the list such as the likes of Sam Taylor, Tom Green, Finn Callaghan and, of course, captain Toby Greene. GWS will look to make Sydney Showgrounds a solid home ground to play at and will need to grind out those gritty wins interstate to finish in the eight. Don’t be surprised to see 2024’s dark horse team in the final eight in September.

North Melbourne Kangaroos
v
Collingwood Magpies
7.00
1.10
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 13:00
Greater Western Sydney Giants
v
Port Adelaide Power
1.52
2.55
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 16:00
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check PlayUp Website For Latest Odds
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