Well it’s just about that time of year again, and with the Pies, Dons, Cats and Blues all into the Semis of the NAB Cup, we know that the season proper is just another week closer. So for the first time ever, here are the footyweek.com.au 2009 Team Predictions!
Teams are in order of predicted ladder position at the end of the 2009 regular season.
1. Hawthorn – There’s no reason the Hawks shouldn’t back up this year. After a resounding Grand Final win, and a promising pre-season, the Hawks look like the team to beat this year. They’ve kept their big stars and Jaryd Roughhead has had a particularly nice NAB Cup. The Hawks will go two in a row this season.
2. Western Bulldogs – Top 4 last season and the Dogs will only improve. They have a realtively young side, sprinkled with seasoned stars like Johnson and Akermanis. Although a major impression in the finals is still a year or two off, the Sons of the West will do the late E.J Whitten proud this season.
3. Collingwood – The young Collingwood side showed plenty of heart last season typified in their 86 point thumping of Geelong. If the Magpies can consistently present even half the discipline they showed in that game, they will go a long way this year. With a side choc full of young guns and having gained a few more in the draft (Sidebottom, Beames), Footyweek is predicting the Pies to make the big one this year.
4. Geelong – The Cats are still a very, very good football team. They are now a beatable team though. They’ll still make the prelims, with Ablett and Bartel still improving, but the Cats won’t be the same force we saw last year, a la Essendon 2000-2001.
5. Carlton – A bold tip, but the Blues are rapidly gaining momentum every match they play. Having beaten the Magpies twice last year, as well as the Dogs once, the Blues showed they can perform in the big time games. Judd is still in his 20s and Brendan Fevola seems to get better with age. The Blues will upset again this year and will make an impression in the finals.
6. Brisbane – The Lions have a new coach and he will have a great first season. Michael Voss knows the game so well, he will bring this team in. They were unlucky not to make the Eight last year as they had some good wins over tough opponents. It all just fell away at the end for Brisbane. This year, with Voss at the helm, that shouldn’t happen. Brown and Black are wonderfully talented and the Lions will return to the finals scene this year.
7. Richmond – Firstly, this is NOT because of Cousins. Personally, Footyweek thinks Cousins will get injured at some point midseason. He won’t play 22 games in any case. Richmond will make the Eight because it’s been about 4 years in the making. With a myriad of talent across all ages, Richmond have just been building towards this year. With a first round challenge against Carlton, the Tigers will be tested from the get-go. They’ll upset once or twice, and beat all the teams they SHOULD, to make it to 7th.
8. North Melbourne – North seem to be all over the place in the last 3 years. I have them in the top eight merely because I feel they have a finals quality gameplan hidden in there somewhere. They lost a couple of inspirational stars last year but will be boosted by the appointment of Brent Harvey – a man who bleeds blue and white – as Captain. They’ll just scrape in to the finals and they might just upset Carlton in the first round.
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9. Adelaide – Adelaide have been hanging on the edge for two seasons now and this year they will miss the finals on percentage. They lost a great backman in Nathan Bassett and their side will be completely crippled if either Simon Goodwin or Brett Burton get injured again.
10. St Kilda – St Kilda are another team that were on the fringes last year. They showed little consistency and managed to slip into the top 4 by the grace of God. This year, they won’t be so lucky. With Nick Dal Santo out of favour, the club’s hopes rely on Nick Riewoldt, the only Saint who can be trusted to deliver 95% of the time.
11. Sydney – Sydney have a whole lot of nothing going for them this year. They’ve lost their best defender in Tadghe Kennely, and they will be hoping more for discipline than goals from Barry Hall. They are without a star forward, and they only have one or two decent backmen. It’s the end of an era for the Swans.
12. Essendon – You can see that Essendon are building toward something big. It won’t come this season. It won’t come in 2010, but expect the Bombers to be a force again in a couple of years’ time. This season will be reserved for the occassional upset of a team like North Melbourne or Carlton. Watch out for the rookies this year (especially Kade Klemke) because they will make the impact in the next few years.
13. West Coast – West Coast will do a little better than last year but they will still suffer greatly from the loss of Judd, Cousins and Michael Braun. Cox and Kerr can only win them so many games.
14. Fremantle – Fremantle have somewhat exorcised the demons of last year with the retirement of the main trouble-makers at the club. But now they have a captaincy issue (it must be Pavlich, who else?) and Footyweek has the feeling that the Dockers won’t know where their next win is coming from. A long period of rebuilding begins.
15. Melbourne – Still a long, long, long way from a finals berth, but Melbourne got a good young talent in Jack Watts, and with him, a tiny pinprick of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The Demons will improve on last year but will still scrape the bottom of the barrel for wins.
16. Port Adelaide – The Power have a good line-up. There is no doubting that. They just can’t perform. Port will self-destruct mid-season, the coaching staff will be sacked and some big name players will move states. Port will suffer their worst losing streak ever and will crash to the bottom of the heap.