The Legend V The Intern: Predictions For 2018 AFL Season
Footy analysis and commentary is a job given to the experts, and we understand why. But we think the everyday punter knows a thing or two, as well.
So we’ve sought predictions and talking points for the 2018 AFL season from both an AFL legend and a PickStar intern, and we’ll see who hits the mark!
About the legend
Matthew Pavlich is one of the all-time greats of the game. ‘Pav’ played 353 games for Fremantle, was club captain for nine years, won the club’s Best and Fairest six times and was also a six-time All-Australian.
He is now a commentator with Fox Footy and sought-after for his footy opinions.
About the PickStar intern
21-year-old Nick Palmer doesn’t have an AFL game to his name but does have ample experience with St Peter’s Old Collegians in South Australia’s amateur league and is recognised among mates as an above average pundit.
Having impressed PickStar colleagues with bold opinions and general sports knowledge in the office, this young punter has earned his chance to put his predictions up against Pav.
The Legend: Pav’s predictions
GWS to shine .. but will they go all the way?
GWS have rapidly progressed from the AFL’s newest franchise to potential powerhouse. They were on the cusp of the ultimate success last year but fell just short of making it to Grand Final day.
In 2018, their list is much better positioned. Key retirements will free up space for their rising talent, while stars Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio and Dylan Shiel will get even better. I’m tipping the Giants to make it to the Grand Final this year and maybe even claim their first Premiership.
Less is more for the Crows
It’s going to be a tougher year for the Crows. They’ve lost Jake Lever, currently have injuries to Captain Taylor Walker and Brad Crouch and other clubs will have learned much more about the team that did everything but win the Premiership in 2017.
But, having said that, I still think they will win enough games to make the top four. And after last year’s failure at the finish line they should have the resolve and the hunger to go one step further in 2018.
As much as things change, they stay the same
These days we’re drowning in data and this creates great benefits but also complications on what we should really be focusing on in footy. There are plenty of obscure statistics that continue to emerge, and sure the game has evolved, but not to the extent that a lot of people think.
In 2018, the fundamentals of footy will be the same. The best teams will be those that do the tried and true things – win the ball in the contest, use the ball effectively and make less mistakes than the opposition, be aggressive in locking the ball in their forward half of the ground and have strong defensive structures that create intercept possessions.
After signing a two-year deal late last year the pressure may be off coach Nathan Buckley, but Pies fans shouldn’t expect that to translate into immediate on-field results. I’m expecting Collingwood to struggle in 2018.
They play a lot of games in Melbourne, which may be the only factor that helps them win enough games to avoid having an absolute shocker, but ultimately it won’t be pretty for the boys in black and white.
AFL ladder prediction
6. Port Adelaide
12. St. Kilda
13. West Coast
15. Gold Coast
18. North Melbourne
The Intern: Nick’s predictions
No more excuses for Melbourne
This is the season for the Demons. If Simon Goodwin's team cannot reach the Top 8 then the season must be classified as a bust.
After the acquisition of Jake Lever, the Dees should be well placed in defence with other solid defenders Michael Hibberd and Tom McDonald. The midfield stocks have a fantastic balance of youth and experience, with young guns Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca looking ready to explode, while having the helping hand of the players such as Nathan Jones and Jordan Lewis. The list is now ripe and if it all clicks they should be very difficult to beat.
BUT fans would be a VERY nervous with McDonald and star Jack Viney ruled out for the first two months of the year!
Essendon won't live up to the hype
After completing the trades for Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad there has been a lot of hype around the Bombers being one of the teams to beat in 2018.
Last year Essendon rated as the easiest team to move the ball against, and based on the pre-season it seems that this area of the game has not improved for them. The defence will be the issue for the Bombers in 2018, it is expected that they will play a fast, high octane game with their list being one of the smallest in the league. While this type of football may hold up against some teams, they will be exposed by the teams with players that can break the line with one kick.
Etihad Stadium will suit them but interstate games will hurt them. Last year the Dons only won two games away from home - that is a very concerning stat that they will want to address. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are in a dogfight with the Hawks and Dogs for that final spot in the finals.
No hangover for the Tigers
The Tigers will not have a Premiership hangover, it is as simple as that. The playing group will get better, they have young players that would have learned a lot from an amazing 2017.
Dion Prestia is a much better player then what he showed last year and Jack Graham is going to get better and better. They have superstars in Martin, Cotchin and Rance that are going to help prepare this group for another Premiership tilt. The off-field culture seems fantastic at the club, which was shown by the video released of the players celebrating the re-signing of Damien Hardwick. The Tigers are well placed and will once again be around the mark in 2018.
Freo to struggle, Fyfe to win Brownlow
Unfortunately for Dockers supporters, this may be a long season. They are in rebuild mode and Ross Lyon must experiment with his younger players. Having a fit Aaron Sandilands is great for Freo who host a strong on-ball brigade, with players such as Fyfe, Neale and Mundy who will play some good football. Scoring will be the issue, with the Dockers forward line not hosting a whole lot of power.
On a good note, if Nat Fyfe plays with the way he did in the International Rules Series and the pre-season then he will in for one hell of a season. It looks as though he’s going play a bit up forward when resting so I’m predicting hell kick 35 plus goals this season while averaging 27 touches a game – and that will see him claim a second Brownlow Medal.
5. Port Adelaide
11. St Kilda
14. West Coast
15. North Melbourne
17. Gold Coast
So whose predictions will be on point, the legend or the intern? Whose insights will you rely on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook.
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