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AFL Round 20 previews

Not long left until finals time in the AFL, so do these games become dead rubbers or important positioning for places in the top eight? Let's leave it to the sharp blokes at @AFLRatings.

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AFL Round 20 Previews by @AFLRatings from AFLRatings.com.au

Eight favourites were successful last week, here are our thoughts for Round 20.

Sydney 12-6 v Collingwood 9-9

No Lance Franklin again for the Swans on Friday night in a must win game to maintain their chances for a top four position on the AFL Ladder, Sydney has averaged only 57.0pts FOR in the last two games that Franklin has missed due to injury. The Swans have also struggled defensively in the last four weeks conceding 102.3pts per game, only two teams, Essendon & Carlton average more points AGA over the same period of time. It is likely that Collingwood need to win all their remaining games to play finals this year, Cloke returns to a new look forward line for the Magpies. Interestingly the Magpies have not cleared their betting line in the last five games, they have a great record against the Swans winning their last two in Sydney but at ANZ Stadium. This is sure to be a great game at the SCG with so much on the line, Sydney are 10-2 when starting as favourite whilst Collingwood are 3-5 when starting as underdog this year.

Essendon 5-13 v Adelaide 10-1-7

The Bombers have literally hit the wall again, they have failed to score 70pts in eight out of their last ten games and have conceded 110.5pts in their last four games. The season cannot end quickly enough for Essendon amidst the turmoil of an alleged doping scandal that has lasted almost three years, the stress & fatigue on the players must be at an all-time high during this period which could lead to more damaging results to end their season. Adelaide are one of the better scoring teams in the AFL and will likely put up a big number on the Bombers at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, the Crows are Ranked 3rd in the AFL with 55.4 Inside 50s per game. This could spell trouble for Essendon having conceded 55.6 Ave Inside 50s AGA in their last nine games, the Bombers did only conceded 45 Inside 50s last week but did so giving up a high 2.07pts per Inside 50. Adelaide are 8-1 when starting Favourite this year, would be a surprise if they dropped this game.

Nth Melbourne 11-7 v St Kilda 6-12

The Kangaroos have been on a roll winning their last five games, they are the highest scoring team in the AFL over the same period of time. Sure their last four opponents are well down on the Ladder but they have clinically got the job done enhancing their chances of playing finals this season, Nth Melbourne are 9-3 when starting as favourite and have won their last five games at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. St Kilda have improved above many expectations this year, but the scoring is starting to dry up towards the end of the season for this young playing group averaging only 62.6pts in their last five games. Weather conditions can play a factor at Blundstone Arena, the forecast looks fine which could provide an opportunity for the total match points line which seems a little on the low side.

Port Adelaide 8-10 v GWS Giants 10-8

The Power had their season ended earlier than expected given all their pre-season hype of Premiership contenders, generally teams can have a downward spiral in form once all expectations of Finals have been erased but not so for this team. Port Adelaide are likely to finish off their season in competitive style on the back of their Coach Ken Hinkley’s comments throughout the week, questioning his players commitment should have a positive impact in the final four weeks of their home & away season. GWS were less than impressive against Essendon last week before opening up the scoring in the second half to record a 31pt win, having hit 100pts in five of their first eight games this year the Giants have failed to hit 100pts in their last ten games averaging only 74.8pts over the same period. If Port Adelaide can hit the scoreboard often enough early it may break the back of the Giants team in this game and likely their Finals chances.

Brisbane 2-16 v Carlton 3-15

And so the bottom two teams in the AFL match-up against each other in what could likely decide which team finishes last on the Ladder at the end of the home & away season, both Brisbane & Carlton have struggled to score in recent weeks but that could all change on Saturday night at the GABBA where defensive structures won’t be at the forefront of both teams even in likely slippery conditions. In the last three weeks, the Lions have conceded 112.3pts & the Blues 132.0pts average per game. It is generally hard to throw that much coin at bottom sides as you really don’t know what you are going to get in return but do actually like the Lions in this one. But really how much can you invest when Brisbane are 0-3 when starting as favourite and Carlton are 1-14 when starting as underdog this year? Loose change only!

Geelong 10-1-7 v Hawthorn 13-5

Is there yet another chapter in this rivalry to be written? Geelong are in a chase for a final eight position and Hawthorn are hot on the heels of West Coast chasing a top two finish and a critical week one home final. The Hawks are and have been unquestionably great this year and do threaten to make it a three-peat, but the Cats are travelling quite nicely and will at least pose the question to the Hawks on Saturday Night at the MCG. Geelong have been the best defensive team in the last four weeks conceding only 56.5pts average per game, their playing list is almost at optimal level which does give them a great opportunity to challenge the Hawks. Expecting a very close contest, Geelong at the +27.5 betting line looks promising.

Richmond 11-7 v Gold Coast 3-1-14

The Tigers are suddenly under pressure to retain their position in the top eight, their draw suggests they will play finals this year but they cannot afford any slip ups in their last four games. Again we roll out the Tigers are a poor 5-6 when starting as favourite this year, the Suns are not going to be an easy get this Sunday at the MCG especially if scoring becomes an issue again. Richmond have averaged 77.2pts in their last 11 games and have only scored 100pts on two occasions this year, a low scoring contest brings Gold Coast directly in to contention providing they can maintain their competitive game style that they have shown in recent weeks. Expect the Tigers to respond following last week’s poor output, Suns at the line might be tempting especially if it is bigger than the current +32.5pts at game time.

Western Bulldogs 12-6 v Melbourne 6-12

The Bulldogs find themselves deep in the discussion for a top four finish currently holding down fourth position on the AFL Ladder at the completion of Round 19, funnily enough the Demons are one of the last teams they wish to play considering a 39pt defeat back in Round 8 at the MCG. The one saving grace for the Bulldogs is that this game is being played at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne has a deplorable record having not won since……………………Round 19, 2007!!!!! Based on current form, it is hard seeing the Bulldogs losing this one with so much on the line, they are 6-2 when starting as Favourite and Melbourne are 5-11 when starting as underdog this season.

Fremantle 16-2 v West Coast 13-1-4

It appears that weather will play a part in the Western Derby to finish off Round 20 on Sunday in Perth, showers are forecast around game time which will likely impact scoring in this game. Fremantle have all but secured a critical top two position and have an excellent 16-2 record this season, they are likely not to risk any player in the remaining four weeks of the season with any lingering doubts of injury. West Coast have their own injury issues with several key players missing from their line-up, they will be desperate to atone for the loss to Hawthorn last week and hang on to second place on the AFL ladder. Fremantle looked awesome in the first half last week, if they are back to early season form then it could be a long day for the Eagles.

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