At this point in the season the real AFL premiership contenders are starting to make themselves known, and a few teams have completely written themselves off. The great majority in the middle still need to establish a pecking order.
First up are the strong contenders. Richmond are the reigning premiers, and have picked up right where they left off. They may have been a tad lucky to take the flag in 2017, but their squad gained valuable big game experience and the confidence to believe that they can beat anybody. The Tigers are the form team at the moment and could well retain the AFL premiership.
The Sydney Swans have had some hiccups, but they have shown that when they are on they win matches. Winning in Geelong without Buddy Franklin showed that the team is not a one-trick pony – and the final quarter blitz demonstrated that they can never be counted out of a game of AFL.
Adelaide were grand finalists and probably the best team in the AFL last year. This year, however, they have struggled for consistency. They are still at the right end of the ladder, and can be expected to make an impact in September.
GWS have one of the strongest (on paper) teams in the league. They have also only lost one game this year, to cross-town rival and fellow title contender Sydney. The draw against St Kilda is concerning, and many wins have not been convincing. The Giants are a good side, but need more of a killer instinct.
And now the teams who can be written off from the AFL this year. Unsurprisingly the winless Brisbane and Carlton head the list – the only win either side looks likely to get is against the other. Joining them on the list is St Kilda. The Saints will be more of a challenge than the bottom pair this year, and will cause an upset or two, but lack the consistency to make the finals.
I’m also ready to say that the Bulldogs and Bombers will miss the 8. While they are each only a win behind the Kangaroos in 8th they have not impressed so far. The Bulldogs will cause some upsets with their young side, and may well finish higher than they are now, but they won’t be consistent enough to play finals football.
The Bombers, meanwhile, have made a habit of losing valiantly against good teams, and just losing against bad ones. They have the firepower to be ranked higher than they are currently, but I doubt they are top 8 material – this year.