Wed, Sep 6, 9:21am by Head Editor
After the most dramatic finish to a season in history, the eight finalists are ready to go for Week One of the AFL finals series.
The fans have voted with their feet with packed houses expected at all four games over the weekend.
The action kicks off on Thursday night when the Crows and Giants battle it out for a home Preliminary final in the city of churches, before the Cats and Tigers do the same at the home of football on Friday night.
The cut-throat action starts on Saturday at 4pm, when the Swans host the Bombers in Sydney, then we’re back in Adelaide for the Power and the Eagles.
Three of the four games are expected to be tight, with a line of under three goals, while the Swans are the heaviest favourite of the round against the Bombers, that contest has a line of 32.5 points.
Here’s our best bets for Week One of the Finals.
Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney, Thursday September 7, 7:50pm, Adelaide Oval
After securing 15 wins from 22 games during the home and away season, the Adelaide Crows earned the right to host the first final against the Greater Western Sydney Giants, who were just one win back, in fourth place.
The news isn’t as good for the Crows when you consider their recent form though, which consists of just two wins from their last five games. Their opponents had won four in a row, before they were belted by the Cats in the last round of the season.
The hosts are the league’s best attacking side, averaging 109 points per game. They are also the top ranked team for marks inside 50 and second for inside 50s.
The South Australian’s have won seven of the eight games played between these two sides, and we’re taking them to continue that run here.
Suggested Bet: Adelaide to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
WATCH: Our Preview of Week 1 of the AFL Finals
Geelong v Richmond, Friday September 8, 7:50pm, MCG
The MCG will be rocking on Friday night, when close to 100,000 fans pack into the home of football to see whether the Cats or the Tigers can secure a home Preliminary final.
Damien Hardwick’s outfit have exceeded all expectations this season, finishing third on the ladder, after winning 15 games. They’ll need to raise their game again here though, if they are to reverse not only a massive finals drought, which has lasted 16 years, but also a horrible record in this fixture.
The last time that Richmond beat Geelong was back in Round Nine, 2006. That match was in Geelong, and you have to go back seven more years, to 1999, for the club’s last win against them at the MCG.
One of the keys to success for the Tigers this season has been their small forward brigade of Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler and Jason Castagna, but the Cats were able to keep them to a combined total of just one goal when these sides met in Round 21.
This won’t be easy, but Geelong will get it done by under 40 points.
Suggested Bet: Geelong to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.20
Sydney v Essendon, Saturday September 9, 4:20pm, SCG
Essendon are the biggest underdog of the weekend when they head north to take on the league’s in-form team – the Sydney Swans – who’ve won 14 of their last 16 games.
The confidence from punters may be on the back of Sydney’s incredible form in this fixture. The Swans have won the last seven games between these two clubs, two of which have been by over 50 points.
The last time they met it was much closer though. A Gary Rohan goal after the final siren saw the Swans steal the win, but the red and black can take plenty of confidence from that game, when they were able to utilise their speed and quick ball movement.
The Swans have won their last three elimination finals since 2008, while their opponents are aiming for their first finals win since 2004. These sides last met in a final in 1999, when the Bombers ran out winners by 69 points.
We had entertained taking the Bombers at the line, as we think they’ll be competitive throughout the game, but we’ve settled on the Swans by 1 to 39 points.
Suggested Bet: Sydney by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
Port Adelaide v West Coast, Saturday September 9, 7:50pm, Adelaide Oval
West Coast head to Adelaide for Saturday night’s Elimination final after squeezing into the eight with a win over the Crows in the final round while Port secured a fifth-place finish with a 115-point win over the Suns.
Interestingly, the visitors have won five of their six games at this venue, including the Round Seven encounter between these clubs, Port did return the favour in Perth in Round 16 though.
The betting market for this one has not moved since it opened last week, the hosts opened at and remain a $1.46 favourite, with the Eagles a $2.75 chance to cause an upset. The only market that has moved slightly is the line, which is out from 14.5 to 15.5 points.
The tale of the tape certainly favours the Power. They are second only to their cross-town rivals for points scored, while they are number one for inside 50s, an area where the Eagles sit 11th.
The Eagles have gone win-loss-win-loss for their last 10 games, while Port head into this one on the back of a three-game winning streak, and we’re taking that streak to continue here.
Suggested Bet: Port to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
Adelaide to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
Geelong to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.20
Sydney by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
Port to win by 1 to 39 points: $2.10
AFL Finals Week 1 odds:
Adelaide $1.50 v Greater Western Sydney $2.60 Line: 13.5
Geelong $1.74 v Richmond $2.10 Line: 4.5
Sydney $1.20 v Essendon $4.60 Line: 32.5
Port Adelaide $1.46 v West Coast $2.75 Line: 15.5
Odds supplied by Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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