Not long now until September and there's still plenty at stake for most clubs. It's the AFL Round 18 preview brought to you as always by the smart blokes at @AFLratings.
AFL Round 18 preview from aflratings.com.au, @aflratings
There has been no round this year in which every favourite has won, with all favourites likely to start under $1.50 here are our thoughts for Round 18.
Hawthorn 12-4 v Richmond 10-6
The Hawks are in season best form with a remarkable average winning margin of 99.7pts from their last three games, they will head in to this game with arguably their best line-up this year. Richmond are coming off a heart breaker against Fremantle last week after leading for almost 90% of game time, with a Top 4 spot still a genuine possibility for the Tigers this has turned in to a must win. Richmond have been solid starting as Underdogs this year with a 5-1 record, this will be their toughest test however but the +35.5 Richmond Betting Line does stand out as a likely option. Since the start of the 2013 season Hawthorn are 45-0 when scoring 100pts or more in a game and 9-12 when scoring under 100pts, Richmond have the capabilities to shut a game down which may also provide an Under on the Total Match Points Line currently at O/U181.5.
Geelong 8-1-7 v Brisbane 2-14
Not expecting an upset in this one as Brisbane has only averaged 54.4pts FOR from their last seven games, without any resemblance of a forward line the Lions are going to find it difficult to score against a well organised Geelong defence at Simonds Stadium. Without being fantastic in the last two weeks the Cats have found a way to win and currently sit outside the Top 8 by half a game, the Cats appear to be a safe bet but if this game is close at 3Qtr time don’t forget the Lions have kicked only three last Qtr Goals from their last five games combined.
Collingwood 8-8 v Melbourne 5-11
If any team could be in form despite five consecutive losses it is Collingwood, the Magpies have been agonisingly close to winning all five games and currently sit one game outside the current Top 8. Melbourne have been horrible viewing in recent weeks, the stacking of their backline to reduce points against has restricted their scoring capabilities. The Demons have averaged only 56.5pts FOR from their last four games, Total Match Points involving Melbourne games have not exceeded 129pts in the last three weeks. Forecast weather conditions may also have an impact on Total Match Points in this game, the current line sits at O/U165.5pts.
Sydney 11-5 v Adelaide 9-1-6
The Swans have not lost three consecutive games in a season since late in 2013, two weeks ago they were a solid second choice of many to challenge Hawthorn for this year’s Premiership and now they currently sit at fourth favourite and drifting significantly. Adelaide have responded well in very difficult circumstances in recent weeks, the Crows have opened up the scoring (117.5pts Ave in last two games) and are a genuine threat to defeat Sydney at the SCG on Saturday afternoon. Defensively the Swans have been exposed in the last two weeks conceding 124.5pts Ave in heavy defeats, the Crows +16.5 Betting Line does look appealing along with their Head to Head odds.
Carlton 3-13 v Nth Melbourne 9-7
Carlton were inept last week conceding their biggest defeat in the history of the Club, Carlton has averaged only 45.5pts FOR from their last 4 games and appear unlikely to be competitive in most remaining games of the AFL Home & Away season. Nth Melbourne have been a solid 7-3 when starting as Favourite this year, the Kangaroos are locked in a battle to fill only a few remaining spots in the Top 8 and cannot not afford a loss to the underperforming Blues. Not sure this will be an intense contest, expect the Kangaroos to give the -36.5 Betting Line a nudge.
Gold Coast 2-14 v West Coast 13-3
The 2015 Home & Away season is all but a write off with controversy and injuries taking their toll on the Suns, yet amongst all the hysteria has emerged a team full of youth that has been highly competitive for several weeks without getting the reward more than one win. West Coast are rolling along second on the Ladder and Ranked 2nd for scoring averaging 107.1pts per game, the Eagles are 6-2 in all travel games and 11-2 when starting favourite this season. The Betting Line does seem to be a little on the high side especially when considering this game will be played at night on the Gold Coast, generally slippery conditions impact ball handling at Metricon Stadium.
Port Adelaide 7-9 v St Kilda 6-10
The Power are coming from a long way back in an attempt to make a run at the Finals, it is likely they would need to win all remaining six games to guarantee a spot in the Top 8. St Kilda have been one of the big improvers this year, not many would have pencilled them in for six wins at the completion of Round 17. Port Adelaide may have found a little form in recent weeks, they have averaged 121.0pts FOR in their last two weeks and should continue their high scoring against the Saints on Sunday. The Power have been less than convincing as Favourite this season with a 5-7 record, would be a surprise however if they dropped this one against the Saints.
Essendon 5-11 v Western Bulldogs 10-6
If you want to watch a fast & furious game on Sunday then this is your choice, the Bulldogs found their very dangerous run through the middle of the ground last week in a very important win against Collingwood. Essendon were very competitive in a narrow loss last week, surprisingly they scored 116pts against Port Adelaide after averaging 60.4pts FOR from their previous seven games. The Bulldogs are challenging for a Top 4 position and should be hungry enough to get the win against the Bombers, but this one might be a lot closer than what the current Betting Line of -16.5 Bulldogs is suggesting.
Fremantle 14-2 v GWS Giants 9-7
For the third consecutive week the Giants will be boarding a plane this time back at Domain Stadium where they encountered their heaviest defeat earlier this year by 87pts against West Coast, the Giants were very poor last week and showed little intensity which was surprising considering they are on the verge of making the Finals for the 1st time in club history. Fremantle will be without Nat Fyfe for the first time this season, there are no expectations of an upset loss to GWS but the Dockers need to be weary of their fragile one-game lead over the Eagles and two-game lead over Hawthorn who both have a superior percentage to Fremantle. The Dockers have not scored 100pts since Round 8, it is likely if they get a large enough lead they will pack up the scoring late in the game.