AFL Finals: Why Your Team Can Win

Each week during the 2019 AFL season, the team at will come together and rank every AFL club from best to worst, creating our Power Rankings.

It’s our attempt to fix the problems of the ladder. Listing clubs based on their number of wins works later in the season, but even then some wins and losses are better than others. This way we can try to truly represent how good or bad teams are.

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    85Optus StadiumFull TimeTeam logo for Melbourne Demons69
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    112Melbourne Cricket GroundFull TimeTeam logo for St Kilda Saints71
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    93GabbaFull TimeTeam logo for Adelaide Crows92
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    133GMHBA StadiumFull TimeTeam logo for Western Bulldogs89
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    60Marvel StadiumFull TimeTeam logo for Fremantle Dockers53
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    72Blundstone ArenaFull TimeTeam logo for Sydney Swans77
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    89Adelaide OvalFull TimeTeam logo for Gold Coast Suns51
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    95Melbourne Cricket GroundFull TimeTeam logo for Hawthorn Hawks59
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    138Giants StadiumFull TimeTeam logo for Carlton Blues45
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  • Just when we thought three teams had separated themselves from the rest, one looked awful and another almost lost to Carlton. Have we finally figured out who we can trust?


    Scroll down for full analysis of every team and full ranking details.

    Radical new umps tweak

    Radical new umps tweak


    1. Geelong Cats (7-1, 145.6%)

    Last week’s ranking: 1

    Average ranking (in our voters’ ballots): 1

    Of the three ‘top seeds’ that most experts have identified as the flag favourites, Geelong was the best-performing in Round 8. And by ‘best-performing’ we mean ‘they beat the team in 17th by four goals’. So ‘best’ is relative. It was still a powerful performance from the Cats, with Tim Kelly and Gary Ablett both in red-hot form, and on the ladder they’re now two wins and a healthy chunk of percentage clear of third. While upsets can always happen, it’s hard to see Chris Scott’s side not getting to 10-1, with games against the Bulldogs and Swans in Geelong plus a trip up to the Gold Coast to come over the next three weeks. In Round 12, Richmond awaits in a Friday night MCG blockbuster - when the Tigers may finally be healthy. That might be the next time we learn much about the Cats.

    Next week’s game: Western Bulldogs at GMHBA Stadium, Saturday twilight

    2. Collingwood (6-2, 126.1%)

    Last week: 2

    Average ranking: 2

    The team that sits a unanimous second in the Power Rankings was outplayed by Carlton for almost the entire game on Saturday. Weird, that. Still, you always felt like Collingwood was one ten-minute burst from blowing that game open, and it just so happened that burst came in the final ten minutes of the match, when they kicked the last five goals. If that was an off day for the Pies, the good news is they still won, as compared to a team like GWS that had an off day and was belted because of it. Sometimes it’s about picking your spots. With the Saints, Swans and Dockers to come before the Queen’s Birthday clash, you’d like the Pies’ chances of winning at least three, if not all of their next four games.

    Next week: St Kilda at MCG, Saturday early

    3. Richmond (5-3, 98.5%)

    Last week: 4

    Average ranking: 3.5

    Let’s first take the glass half full approach. Richmond, already facing a severe injury plague, ran away from Fremantle on Sunday, despite having just two fit players on the bench for the entire second half. It was just their second win outside of Victoria in their last seven attempts. Tick, tick, tick. But Toby Nankervis will now miss up to two months with a groin injury and Jack Ross is set to miss an extended period as well. There has to be a tipping point with these injuries. There’s also the fact that the Tigers still have a negative percentage (as in, they’ve allowed more points than they’ve scored), despite their 5-3 record. That suggests they are overperforming. It may end up that they start getting players back and capitalise on the wins they’ve already tallied to make the top four - or they may end up reverting to the mean, and struggling a little. Hawthorn and Essendon, their opponents over the next fortnight, certainly aren’t easybeats.

    Next week: Hawthorn at MCG, Sunday afternoon

    4. GWS Giants (5-3, 116.3%)

    Last week: 3

    Average ranking: 3.75

    Did we go early on the Giants? They were proclaimed one of the three main flag contenders last week by most experts, and their win over Geelong in Geelong is probably the most impressive on any resume right now. But other than that, there are questions over this team. Their wins have come against an Essendon side that has since admitted it was getting ahead of itself, a Richmond team that isn’t great on the road and was in the midst of its injury woes, a Sydney team that is going to finish in or near the bottom four and a St Kilda side that might join them. To be fair, not many teams have strong resumes this season. But we’d like to see the Giants beat another contender or two before being sure about them. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the loss to Hawthorn, which gives them a 1-9 record at the MCG since they started being a properly competitive side in 2015. That’s a big worry given the whole location of the Grand Final thing.

    Next week: Carlton at Giants Stadium, Sunday twilight

    Player saves toddler on field

    Player saves toddler on field


    5. Adelaide Crows (5-3, 118.1%)

    Last week: 7

    Average ranking: 4.75

    What are the Crows? On the ladder, they’re 5-3 and third, with the third-best percentage in the AFL. Sounds like a proper contender. But it seems like few people actually believe Adelaide is that good right now. It’s dangerous putting more weight on how a team ‘feels’ than what the numbers say, but we’re still not impressed by Don Pyke’s team. Since their loss to North Melbourne, they’ve beaten Gold Coast (who have since collapsed into the spoon-level side most expected them to be), St Kilda (who are also collapsing), Fremantle (who might be OK but still have an inflated percentage thanks to the Round 1 North Melbourne win) and an injury-ravaged Port Adelaide. Much like with GWS, it’s not a great resume... but then much like with GWS, it’s a resume. Not many teams actually have a resume right now. With games against current top eight sides Brisbane and West Coast to come over the next fortnight, it might be the time the Crows actually look like the team the numbers say they are.

    Next week: Brisbane Lions at Gabba, Saturday afternoon

    6. West Coast Eagles (5-3, 97.4%)

    Last week: 5

    Average ranking: 6

    Let the parade of teams that aren’t overly impressive, yet are in the top six of the Power Rankings, continue! West Coast still has a percentage in the red (more points allowed than scored), and their 12 goals kicked against St Kilda last Saturday night were their most since Round 3. That Round 3 win over Collingwood was also the last time the Eagles actually looked like the reigning premiers. Any away win is to some degree impressive but given St Kilda’s current issues, Eagles boosters would’ve liked to have seen a stronger win, surely. They’re averaging three goals a game less than they scored last season. Given Melbourne’s issues, you’d still expect West Coast to get the job done on Friday night, but is the form going to match the win-loss record at some point?

    Next week: Melbourne at Optus Stadium, Friday night

    7. Brisbane Lions (5-3, 103.8%)

    Last week: 6

    Average ranking: 8

    The great thing about being 5-2 is you can afford a loss here or there and still be right in the mix. That’s not a luxury the Lions have enjoyed for some time. Losing to the Bulldogs certainly suggests Chris Fagan’s young side is more a midtable contender than a top four shot, but they’re still in contention for the latter. (Obviously, pretty much every team is given it’s Round 8, but we’re talking about team quality more generally than being literal here.) Two very interesting fixtures are coming up in the next fortnight - a chance to keep building a Gabba fortress against the surging Crows, and a long trip west to face Fremantle. A true top four side would probably win both of those games.

    Next week: Adelaide Crows at Gabba, Saturday afternoon

    8. Port Adelaide (4-4, 102.6%)

    Last week: 8

    Average ranking: 8.5

    The Power Rankings voters are quite lenient on the Power, who sit 11th on the ladder, based on their horror recent run of injuries and their fight late in the Showdown. It hasn’t been a great fortnight for Port but that win over West Coast in Perth still carries quite a bit of weight for their resume. However, other than the Eagles, the Power have only beaten teams currently sitting in the bottom four (Melbourne, Carlton and North Melbourne). Gold Coast looks like a bottom four side right now as well, admittedly, so their list of wins won’t grow much greater if they get the chocolates this week.

    Next week: Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval, Sunday early

    9. Hawthorn (4-4, 105.4%)

    Last week: 13

    Average ranking: 9.75

    The things you can do when you’ve got Alastair Clarkson as your coach, hey? Most have credited the Hawks’ upset win over GWS to a strategic masterclass from the legendary leader, and it keeps Hawthorn well and truly in the finals mix. It’s just a shame not many of their fans were at the MCG to see it. Mums are important, to be fair. Anyway, don’t count out another win this weekend against Richmond - their percentage after all is better than that of the 2017 premiers, and we’re getting to the point of the season where the sample sizes are more instructive.

    Next week: Richmond at MCG, Sunday afternoon

    10. Western Bulldogs (4-4, 102.7%)

    Last week: 12

    Average ranking: 10

    The fighting Aaron Naughtons, after going through a patch where they couldn’t convert inside 50s into goals to save their lives, are suddenly kicking goals - literally and figuratively. It’s a great sign that the Dogs have scored over 90 points in each of their last two games; the average score this season is 80. Although we’d like to see them do it a bit more before declaring their offensive woes have been solved. Naughton isn’t going to take nine contested marks every week, so it’s hard to put too much weight on the Tigers win in that regard, and the Lions are really struggling defensively this year. Geelong, the best defence in the AFL both last season and this, will be a real test.

    Next week: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium, Saturday twilight

    11. Fremantle (4-4, 112.7%)

    Last week: 11

    Average ranking: 10.25

    The Dockers still have the fifth-best percentage in the AFL, and a lot of that is off the back of a much-improved defence. So allowing 111 points from an injury-ravaged Richmond side on Sunday, at home, was a pretty poor result. It was the first time a team had kicked more than 12 goals against Ross Lyon’s club all season, so that shows how well they’ve been doing defensively until now. If they get back to that against Essendon this weekend then we can keep Fremantle as a dark horse finals contender but, if the key to blowing past the Dockers has been revealed, they might be about to slide down the ladder.

    Next week: Essendon at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night

    12. Essendon (3-5, 99.8%)

    Last week: 9

    Average ranking: 11.5

    On the big stage of Friday night against a Sydney side that looks likely to finish in the bottom four this season, Essendon totally flopped. Overall, their offensive numbers look quite good - they’re eighth in the AFL for scoring and actually middle of the pack for turning forward entries into goals, despite many concerns about the connection between their midfield and their forward line. But those numbers are heavily weighted by three games where the Dons kicked 17 or more goals - in none of their five other games have they kicked more than 10. The Power Rankings voters, who have placed them 12th, believe they’re closer to the latter (poor scoring) side than the former.

    Next week: Fremantle at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night

    Fantasia or Fantasia?

    Fantasia or Fantasia?


    13. St Kilda (4-4, 93.9%)

    Last week: 10

    Average ranking: 12.75

    The shine has certainly come off St Kilda’s 4-1 start to the season, with Alan Richardson’s side now in a much more expected ladder position of 12th. Admittedly, being beaten by Adelaide, GWS and West Coast aren’t exactly shocking defeats, so perhaps the hardworking, scrappy Saints can put some wins together against fellow midtable sides and get back into the finals mix. Collingwood isn’t one of those sides, but after that St Kilda faces Carlton and Port Adelaide (in China) before the bye. If they get to the break at 6-5, they have to be considered a top eight chance - from 1994 to 2016, over 65 per cent of 6-5 teams went on to play finals, but only 24.5 per cent of 5-6 teams did it.

    Next week: Collingwood at MCG, Saturday early

    14. Sydney Swans (2-6, 82.7%)

    Last week: 15

    Average ranking: 14.75

    Sydney may have snapped its four-game losing streak - and beaten someone other than Carlton - but few are suggesting they’re about to embark on a 2017-like charge from 2-6 to 14-8 and the finals. Friday night’s win was more about restricting Essendon (or Essendon restricting itself through injuries/poor play), given yet again the Swans failed to kick more than 12 goals. They have done that just once this year (against the Blues, when they kicked 14). Even with the Kangaroos sitting below them on the ladder, their 1996 Grand Final rivals’ form in Hobart - where North has won 13 of its last 15 games - suggests it will be tough for John Longmire’s group to make it two in a row.

    Next week: North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena, Saturday night

    Longmire laments Rampe sledge

    Longmire laments Rampe sledge


    15. Melbourne (3-5, 75.6%)

    Last week: 14

    Average ranking: 15

    How do you win but drop in the Power Rankings? When it’s one of the luckiest finishes we’ve seen in years, and is by just a point against the team with the second-worst percentage in the AFL, Gold Coast. Of course, the Demons still have the worst percentage in the AFL. And while 3-5 doesn’t sound too bad, only about two of every ten teams to have that win-loss record since 1994 have gone on to play finals. It’s still a hole that is going to require some digging out of - but if they do fix their form, it’ll be a lot easier to recover from 3-5 than 2-6, or worse.

    Next week: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, Friday night

    16. North Melbourne (2-6, 80.9%)

    Last week: 17

    Average ranking: 16

    The Kangaroos are almost the reverse Crows. All the numbers - 17th on the ladder, 16th for percentage - suggest North Melbourne is a very bad football team. But while we’re not going to argue they’re good, they don’t feel that bad. Thumping Carlton and then keeping in touch with Geelong for most of the game on Sunday have showed that. This group is almost certainly not going to play finals in 2019 but they could very realistically split their next month of games, when they face the Swans, Bulldogs, Tigers and Suns. This feels more like a 4-8 side (mediocre to bad) than a 3-9 or 2-10 (properly awful) one. Let’s ee if they play like that.

    Next week: Sydney Swans at Blundstone Arena, Saturday night

    17. Gold Coast Suns (3-5, 78.6%)

    Last week: 16

    Average ranking: 16

    Even when Gold Coast was 3-1, we were wary of them, placing them 13th in the Power Rankings; after all they’d won three games by a combined 10 points. Close games, ie within a goal or so, are pretty much coin flips - teams will do really well in them or poorly in certain seasons but overall there’s no rhyme or reason to why. It’s why it’s better to judge teams on percentage. And the Suns’ percentage is awful, despite them being 3-5. Now admittedly they almost - and probably should’ve - beaten Melbourne, but we’re pretty sure the Dees are awful too. Now Gold Coast faces Port Adelaide, who it hasn’t beaten since their first ever meeting in 2011, and then ladder leaders Geelong. Uh oh.

    Next week: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Sunday early

    18. Carlton (1-7, 84.9%)

    Last week: 18

    Average ranking: 17.5

    Not all of our voters placed Carlton last on their ballot, for the first time in a while. They were better than Collingwood for most of the game on Saturday and only faded badly late - it’s certainly not ridiculous to say Brendon Bolton’s side would be favoured if it was playing Gold Coast or Melbourne this coming weekend. But instead it travels to GWS where the Giants will be very keen to make amends for Round 8’s loss, which isn’t ideal. On the plus side there’ll be plenty of Blues players know the way to the stadium if they get lost.

    Next week: GWS Giants at Giants Stadium, Sunday twilight

    Source :

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