Posted: 20 March, 2017 by Riley Brettell

2017 season preview: part 1

Tags: AFL

Before our lives become complete again when the AFL season kicks off on Thursday night, we’re *comprehensibly analysing each club’s chances this season. 

Here’s part one of our 2017 season preview.

*May not have comprehensibly analysed anything.

Adelaide

If 2016 told us anything about the Crows, it’s that life without Danger isn’t going to be so bad after all. 

The Crows put in a very solid shift after losing their marquee man, only missing the top four after being on the receiving end of one of football’s rarest feats, a West Coast away win. 

With a scoring capability rivalling George Best in a Manchester nightclub in the ‘60s, the Crows, if nothing else, can be expected to play a positive brand of footy and feature in a few highlight reels, making them far and away the most exciting attraction in the city of Adelaide. 

Relative to the rest of the league, the Crows look to be one of the more predictable quantities in season 2017, and given an uneventful off season and a stable list, you’d be expecting them to be around the mark again. 

Realistic prediction: They’re forward line has more weapons than Baghdad in the early 2000's. They'll kick over 200 points in a game. Top 4.

Brisbane

New coach, new Brisbane? It’s what Chris Fagan will be praying as he tries to clear the traces of Voss and Leppitsch’s past from his office. 

With the Lions having put the broom through the playing list, fans can certainly expect to have plenty of ‘who the hell is he?’ moments this season as they catch the highlights of a Saturday twilight game at the Gabba that they didn’t watch live - because no one wants to sit through that at 6pm on a Saturday night.

For the good of the game everyone is hoping the Lions can get their shit together internally sooner rather than later, with the likes of Josh Schache and number two draft pick Hugh McLuggage hopefully spearheading what becomes an exciting young list in season 2017 that can lift the rest of the club back into some sort of relevance.

Externally though, expectations are rightly lower than Joel Selwood’s knees in congestion.

Realistic prediction: Would rather sink a warm XXXX tinnie than support this mob right now. 

Carlton

With the Blues somehow at six wins and five losses at the midway point of his first season in charge, it looked as though nothing could wipe the disproportionally large, yet incredibly infectious smile off Brendon Bolton’s face last year.

Though you can’t accuse his charges of not trying to do so, losing ten of their last 11 matches ensured selling memberships would be just that little bit harder for the Blues marketing team in 2017.

There’s no doubting now though that the footy world is finally starting to smell what the Blues are cooking, and while it’s certainly a work in progress, the dish looks a hell of a lot better than the Malthouse mix of 2013-2015, which was just a touch heavy in Kane Lucas and Matthew Watson types.

With the new recipe made up of a core of gun recent draftees in Cripps, Weitering and co., thrown in with a batch of ripening GWS produce nicked from the bloke up the road’s backyard, at least Blues fans should see plenty of talent moving the ball through the middle of the ground.

Ultimately their results in 2017 are going to come down to the accuracy off the boot of Levi Casboult, which is why most commentators are backing the Blues for a bottom three finish. 

Realistic prediction: Bottom four. Let's aim to collect more draft picks to flog off to GWS for their bottom-tier players. 

Collingwood

The Pies have been through a well-documented rebuild in recent seasons after successfully pushing almost all their premiership side out the door following the 2012 coaching handover, a succession plan which has been an unequivocal success.

Few initiatives have provided the rest of the footballing world with so much joy as the finishing positions of 11th, 12th and 12th have managed to do over the past three seasons.

For 2017 though, things are looking up for the Pies after the off-season acquisition of Chris Mayne and Lynden Dunn -- who are surely the final pieces of the black and white premiership puzzle alongside the star-studded midfield.

A return to finals action would want to be on the way for Nathan Buckley’s sake, given another miss may see him flung out the door by the exploding force from the spontaneous combustion of Eddie McGuire. 

Realistic prediction: It’s hard to take this mob seriously anymore when they are literally recruiting from a potato farm. Will not make finals.

Essendon

In case you weren’t aware, the Bombers are coming off a fairly interrupted year in 2016 but we’re not overly sure why.

We know they lost a heap of players to bans last season, but contacts inside the club maintained that they didn’t do anything wrong so it’s all a bit hard to work out. 

With an influx of new bodies to rival the European refugee crisis, hype around the Dons’ comeback is now gaining plenty of steam. 

The prospect of seeing the young guns broken in throughout 2016 pairing with the likes of Hooker, Watson and Heppell should at least be entertaining for supporters in comparison to seeing Mark Jamar being run off his legs and Nathan Grima’s limbs littered around the defensive fifty.

The big question though is how those returning 12 will be able to cope with the rigours of AFL football, though this is apparently of no great concern internally, with the club successfully witnessing how a player returning from a year-long drug ban can slot straight back into league football last season with Ryan Crowley, who’s output of eight games, two goals, 0 shut down efforts and 14 soft tissue injuries, should fill the Bombers with great confidence. 

Realistic prediction: Hard to see them making finals without Crowley. Will be good to just have a season without controversy, ey. 

Fremantle

$110M worth of Cockburn sounds like either a promiscuous teenager’s nightmare or some pharmaceutical companies dream, but for the Dockers that piece of real estate is just one tonic that could help relieve any itchiness still lingering from the incredibly disappointing 2016.

That new training facility in the suburb south of Perth, the return of Nat Fyfe, and the handy additions of Brad Hill and Cam McCarthy (finally) are among the reasons why it’s hard to see things going in any direction but up for Ross Lyon’s men in season 2017.

That said, it would take a return to the era of Clive Waterhouse, a 3D anchor on a green, red and purple jumper and an empty Subiaco for things to go any worse.

Losing 609 games of experience from the retirements of Luke McPharlin and Matthew Pavlich will hurt, but this is a new era for the Dockers, and while it is surprising to see Ross Lyon stick around for a rebuild, there is enough young talent in the ranks to suggest a quick return up the ladder is on the cards. 

Getting Harley Bennell over all the issues that kept him off the park since arriving in the west (I’m talking about injuries you bloody racists) and on the park will be crucial to a crack at the top eight, as will covering for the injuries to Aaron Sandilands.

Rumour has it the Perth City Council are now planning a controlled demolition of the ruckman to ensure no civilians are injured should he unexpectedly collapse once again. 

Realistic prediction: Yes, Fyfe is back, but anyone who actually thinks Cam McCarthy will kick this team into finals contention has been hanging out with Harley Bennell for too long.

Riley Brettell

Writer

People seem to like me because I'm polite, and rarely late.

Tags: AFL

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