So, Port Adelaide and Gold Coast Suns are 1 and 2 while both GWS and Richmond are missing the 8...
I was at a BBQ the week before the AFL commenced after the COVID-19 enforced hiatus. It was at this point I made quite a public statement that was agreed by all.
"There are six serious contenders, three wildcards and the rest and playing for 2021".
Big statement, and at this point, I am wildly wrong but let's examine the logic.
Contenders: Richmond, GWS, West Coast, Collingwood, Brisbane Lions, Geelong
The Tigers have won two premierships in three years and the list hasn't changed much - plus they've unearthed some gems. As long as X-factor Dusty stays fit, they are almost always the team to beat. GWS have an amazing best 15 players, then they lack some depth. Got stage fright during the big dance last year but this list is in their prime. West Coast won in 2018 and still have a window of opportunity with Tim Kelly only adding strength to the side while Collingwood are always competitive and have a great list, aided by always being able to attract players with their status as a big club with premium facilities. The Brisbane Lions jumped up the table last year and only missed out on a minor premiership by %. They lost both their finals matches by less than a kick to the eventual grand finalists. The Lions need to back up and not suffer same fate as 2019 Demons albeit winning at the MCG is a problem too. Geelong are similar to the Lions in that they exited 2019 after being the minor premiers, they'll finish top 6 again and warrior Joel Selwood would love to leave the game a winner.
Wildcards: Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne
Clarko is an amazing coach and how the Hawks pull off trade bargains year-after-year truly amazes me. Tom Mitchell will only get better as the season goes on and there is an A grade support cast in their side. Will be big improvers from 2019. The Bulldogs surprised everyone in 2016 to win the comp and then faded badly, with some players hanging on a bit too long and maybe missing some motivation. Aaron Naughton headlines a side brimming with talent that can beat anyone on their day. For Melbourne, which year was the anomaly 2018 (3rd) or 2019 (17th)? I personally think they are somewhere in between. Having invested heavily in recruiting and paying some players, the club must have internal belief that they are close to a premiership.
Aaron Naughton, the best U21 year-old forward in the game. (Photo: Sporting News)
Everyone Else: North Melbourne, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Carlton, Sydney, Adelaide, Essendon
For various reasons I don't think these clubs can win the competition in 2020. Gold Coast have great young kids but hadn't won a game for over a year, until recently, while Carlton seem to always be rebuilding with good kids. The Crows seem a basket case while others lack genuine "X-factor" on paper. There are also concerns over key players with ongoing injury, think Buddy Franklin and Joe Daniher.
The Suns have been breaking records for the wrong reasons. (Photo: ABC)
Now we have a huge uncertainty with Victoria's COVID-19 outbreaks (do Victorians not wash their hands properly like other states?), therefore the season format and fixtures could change again. Ultimately I don't think anyone can predict with certainty what will happen in 2020 with AFL!