No games were played as the AFL took a week off to “celebrate Footy” like they were Rex Ryan. However, there is precious content for you to devour early on this Labour Day. Let’s get to it!
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
There are no recaps this week as there were no games. Actually, that’s not exactly fair. There was ONE game, but it was the annual E.J. Whitten Game in which former stars play an exhibition for charity. It’s usually good fun and it’s for a good cause. This year, they played using AFLX rules. Here is a video of the whole game:
2019 Season Predictions Review
Before we get into the Finals preview, let’s look back at the beginning of the year and remind ourselves how I thought that everyone was going to finish and compare it to how they actually finished:
|Team||Last Year Finish||Preseson Record||This Year Predicted Finish||Actual Finish|
|Gold Coast Suns||17||1-1||18||18|
|St. Kilda Saints||16||2-0||13||14|
|Port Adelaide Power||10||1-1||9||10|
|North Melbourne Kangaroos||9||0-2||10||12|
|West Coast Eagles||2||2-0||1||5|
Here are the final ladder standings:
|5||West Coast Eagles||15||7||0||60||112.5|
|10||Port Adelaide Power||11||11||0||44||105.4|
|12||North Melbourne Kangaroos||10||12||0||40||99.5|
|14||St. Kilda Saints||9||13||0||36||83.9|
|18||Gold Coast Suns||3||19||0||12||60.5|
An here is the final Balls Graph of the season:
Not to toot my own horn (God knows I do that enough already), but that’s not too shabby!!
The big misses were Sydney, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, and, of course, the Brisbane Lions. To be fair, no one could have foreseen the terrific rise of the Lions. I knew Melbourne would be bad, but I didn’t think they would be THAT terrible. See, kids? You do get happy surprises in life every once in a while!
I nailed the correct finishing position for Richmond, Carlton, and Gold Coast and I was within one or two positions (percentage, really) of getting St. Kilda, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, and North Melbourne correctly placed.
Finally, I got five out of the final Eight correct at the beginning of the season.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here is where we are after the end of the Home and Away Season:
|Total Tips||Total Margin|
|2||Son Of Spam||8||14||129||669|
|7||Why Eagles Why||7||38||114||688|
|9||Joliet Jake Delhomme||7||10||111||797|
|10||Game Time Decision||7||28||110||734|
Remember that we go all the way through to the Grand Final. There is still time to catch the leader and the person in front of you in the standings!
DONT FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
AFL Finals Week 1 Preview
Here is how the Finals bracket shapes up:
Here is the schedule for Finals Week 1 (all times Pacific):
Thursday, September 5, 2019
3:10 AM (Late Wednesday Night!) – West Coast Eagles v Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium
This is the First Elimination Final. Winner goes on to meet the loser of Geelong v Collingwood on the road. Loser goes home.
It shapes up as a pretty even game if you consider form going into the match. West Coast has not been playing well and have lost some players to injury late in the season. On the other side, Essendon is playing better after a rough patch in the middle to late end of the season where it looked like they might lose their spot in the Eight.
As it is, they finished eight after dropping out of seventh while the Eagles finished fifth after dropping out of the Top Four. What I’m saying is these two teams are not exactly setting the league on fire.
There are two factors, one for each team, that could prove decisive:
1) The Eagles are playing at home, where they always play well and have a nice home-field advantage.
2) The Bombers are getting key personnel back from injury for the first time in a long time.
Prediction: I think it will be a close game with the Bombers pulling off the upset in the final moments.
Friday, September 6, 2019
2:50 AM (Late Thursday Night!) – Geelong Cats v Collingwood Magpies at the MCG
This is the First Qualifying Final. Winner gets a bye into the Preliminary Finals. Loser faces the winner of West Coast v Essendon at home.
The big controversy of the last two weeks has been Geelong coach Chris Scott making public statements about how it’s not fair that the Cats play a “Home Final” in their opponent’s home ground. And he’s 100% correct. It’s absolute bullshit that teams like GWS can play a home final at their ground which holds 24,000 while the Cats, whose home in Kardinia Park holds 36,000, must play at the MCG because the AFL wants a bigger crowd at the game.
That’s NFL-style greed and it’s wrong.
In any case, there’s nothing to do about it because they’re not changing it this year. It’s now a matter of whether the Cats can beat a good team, a road crowd, and the history of not playing well after bye weeks.
Prediction: I say they can and they will. Cats win.
10:20 PM – Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs at Giants Stadium
This is the Second Elimination Final. Winner goes on to meet the loser of Brisbane v Richmond on the road. Loser goes home.
The Giants have struggled at the tail end of the season while the Doggies were flying and vaulted into the Eight in the last two weeks. Furthermore, the Doggies and Giants met at this same stadium three weeks ago in Round 22 and the Doggies absolutely mauled the Giants 126-65.
Are we going to have a repeat?
I say no. There are several reasons I say that. For one, Stephen Coniglio has now committed himself to the Giants for the rest of his career, so that whole controversy and uncertainty is finished. That should allow the Giants to focus better on the task at hand. Second, the Giants played their absolutely worst game of the season against the Doggies. There is no way they play the same. Third, the Giants should have learned some lessons from that game.
On the other end, the Doggies were riding a wave of momentum and might be a little rusty coming off the bye. They are also young and inexperienced, so the finals pressure might get to them.
Prediction: It should be a MUCH closer game than the one three weeks ago. I say the Giants go back to playing the way they did earlier in the year and pull out a close and exciting game at the finish.
Saturday, September 7, 2019
2:25 AM (Late Friday Night!) – Brisbane Lions v Richmond Tigers at The Gabba
This is the Second Qualifying Final. The winner gets a bye into the Preliminary Finals. The loser faces the winner of GWS v Western at home.
This is another game in which the two teams played each other recently. In fact, they played each other in Round 23 at the MCG. While the Lions lost the game, they won most of the statistical categories and, notwithstanding a bad first quarter, were even with Richmond the whole game.
Most of the Australian media jumped on the Lions bandwagon after that game, thinking that it showed that the Lions could beat anyone anywhere. I’m not that convinced. If they could have, they would have beaten the Tigers in Round 23.
Now, this game is being held in Brisbane at The Gabba, so that should help the cause. In addition, playing the Tigers at the MCG DID give the Lions a taste of the finals atmosphere and pressure, so they will be much better prepared for this game than they were for the Round 23 game.
Prediction: All of this adds up to a Brisbane win at home with the Tigers still alive for the Premiership thanks to the Double Chance.
That’s all for this week! Next week, we’ll have recaps of all the games and a preview of Week 2. See you next week!