Tue, Jan 30, 12:52pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 AFL season is less than two months away, with reigning champions Richmond among the bookmaker favourites to make it back-to-back premierships.
The Tigers ($7) are one of the best-backed teams at Sportsbet, fourth in the line of betting.
Richmond has retained the majority of its premiership squad, including Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin.
The Tigers open their season with their traditional round one match against Carlton before a Grand Final rematch in Adelaide in round two and winnable games to follow against Hawthorn, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Last years beaten Grand Finallists the Adelaide Crows headline the 2018 Premiership market at $5, joint favourites with Sydney.
The Crows recently re-signed coach Don Pyke, a sign that they are determined to win with Pyke’s strategy, which took them so close to the top of the mountain last season.
The Crows have lost Charlie Cameron and Jake Lever in the offseason, but still possess one of the most potent forward structures in the AFL.
Sydney have been perennial contenders for over 10 years and will figure prominently in 2018.
The Swans had a wretched start to their 2017 campaign, losing the first six matches before going on an inspired run to make the finals, falling short in the second week.
Greater Western Sydney have made consecutive preliminary finals before losing to the eventual champions.
In 2016, the Giants lost a heartbreaker to the Western Bulldogs and in 2017 they were well beaten by the Tigers.
With their youth growing in stature year-by-year, there is an expectation in the AFL that it is not about if the Giants will win a premiership, but when.
They are third favourites at Sportsbet at $5.50 to win the 2018 AFL Grand Final.
Geelong have welcomed back favourite son Gary Ablett to a team that is a mix of youth and experience.
Ablett will join his former team mate Joel Selwood and superstar Patrick Dangerfield in one of the most threatening midfield combinations in the AFL.
The forward line is where we see Geelong struggling, with Ablett likely to spend a lot of time forward this season.
Port Adelaide ($10) lost a gripping match in the elimination finals last year in extra time and will be hoping for a top four finish in 2018.
Melbourne have recruited strongly in the off-season, welcoming Adelaide midfielder Jake Lever into a team that is brimming with young talented players.
After a number of lean seasons, Melbourne look poised to make the finals again and at $13, they are every chance to make the top 8.
Essendon has also had a tumultuous past five years as they were embroiled in the supplements saga, which stripped them of premiership points, draft picks, coaches, administrators and players.
After making the finals in 2017, much like the Power, the Bombers are a good choice for a top four placing in 2018.
At $3.25, they are every chance to surprise many and make the top 4. Essendon are $15 to win the flag in 2018.
The Western Bulldogs did not bounce back from their 2016 premiership triumph well, with a poor season in 2017.
Much the same is predicted for the Dogs in 2018, who have a strange list profile where they have a number of players 23 and under and not many in the ‘senior’ category.
As such, the Dogs form dips and rises with each week, a hallmark of a young side. At $21, it would be a surprise if the Dogs won the competition this season.
Among the remaining teams, at $31 the West Coast Eagles caught our eye.
The Eagles have made the finals consistently since their inception into the AFL and made it to week two of the finals last season.
They will be playing at the new Optus Stadium in 2018, which will give them an even greater advantage when it is full with over 60,000 Eagles fans.
The Eagles are $2.50 to make the top 8, which is exceptional value given their home ground advantage.
AFL Premiership Winner 2018
Greater Western Sydney $5.50
Port Adelaide $10
Western Bulldogs $21
West Coast $31
St Kilda $34
North Melbourne $81
Gold Coast $81
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