When You Should Bet

I have an AFL analytics site, and since football and betting have become so intertwined it can be hard to tell where one stops and the other begins, people sometimes ask me whether they should bet.

I’ve found it hard to give a short answer, so instead I prepared this handy guide.

Photo: Michael Coghlan

Here are circumstances in which I think it’s a good idea to bet:

  • You have a terminal disease and nothing better to do with your money. The Great Beyond looms; you have no energy for rock-climbing or international travel; you hate your children; so maybe you can, even for a few moments, feel a connection to the spark at the heart of the universe by plonking down some cash on Martin to kick the first goal. If you lose, well, you were in a bad mood anyway. Because of the terminal disease.
  • You have inside information. I think it’s definitely easier to have inside information than be consistently smarter than everyone else in the market, so this strikes me as a good way to go. You do have to be careful not to, you know, get mixed up in organized crime. I’m not saying it’s completely risk-free. But if you can get yourself a steady source of exclusive information that’s timely, relevant and reliable, you should be able to beat the market more often than not. So if that’s your situation, I say go for it.
  • You enjoy losing money. I’m not sure this is a common scenario. But I want this to be a comprehensive document. You are normally guaranteed to lose money if you bet long enough, so this would be a good strategy for you.
  • You have located a stupid bookmaker. You shouldn’t expect this to last long, because other market players will also locate this stupid bookmaker and begin to exploit their stupid practices, thus sending the stupid bookmaker a strong signal to cease being stupid, e.g. by bankrupting them. But it certainly is possible to be profitable through information arbitrage, where you may know nothing about the actual sport but are able to efficiently exploit asymmetries in how different bookmakers engage with the market.
  • You are extremely smart, highly informed, equipped with an objective, evidence-based strategy that you intelligently supplement with personal insight, capable of dealing with extended periods of losses both financially and emotionally, and equipped with a thorough understanding of the myriad ways in which your human psyche will attempt to trick you into making bad decisions at the worst possible time. Congratulations, by the way. That’s really impressive. I do kind of wonder why you don’t apply yourself to something with a better risk/reward ratio, like, why are you gambling with your mortgage instead of pulling down high six figures from Citibank? But that’s your call. If you tick all these boxes, you should probably bet. You do have to tick them all, though. If you miss one, it will eat you.
Photo: Simon Yeo

On the flip side, here are some circumstances in which I think it’s a bad idea to bet:

  • You believe life is more predictable than it really is. This is everyone, by the way. It is something like 99% of people. If this surprises you, you are definitely one of those people. The human brain is excellent at detecting patterns in random noise, which used to be super helpful back when we were being stalked by jaguars, but today means we tend to wildly overrate the significance of Sydney losing their last three games at home. The universe is full of randomness that humans are bad at identifying. We don’t even like to acknowledge it’s there; we gravitate to stories with logical cause and effect. Those are illusions. It’s chaos out there.
  • Your emotional state depends on whether you win or lose bets. Holy shit, man. Get out of there. You know what you’re doing to yourself.
  • You struggle for status and respect in a heartless world and earn some by bragging about betting wins. I considered putting this in the “good reasons to bet” section, since at least you’re getting something out of it. Not money, obviously. But something of value to you. But it’s here because it’s still ultimately self-destructive and more costly than it first appears, like gambling in general.
  • You hear people talking up wins but not mentioning serious losses and think this means betting is a generally profitable pastime. It is not. You’re competing in one of the most ruthlessly efficient markets on Earth against people and companies who have been doing it for longer than you, with more capital, resources and information. The playing field is also tilted so that to be profitable you must outperform the average waged dollar — not the average bettor, mind you, the average dollar, bearing in mind that the market effectively strips out stupid dollars and inflates smart ones—and must also outperform it by a wide enough margin to beat the vig.
  • Similarly, you hear a lot of talk about betting and get the idea that everyone is doing it, at least occasionally. This is an illusion created by betting companies who wedge sponsorship dollars into every visible crevice — dollars they have because they take them from bettors. I’ve been approached three times in two years about putting betting material on this site, including one who offered to pay me only if I didn’t reveal I was being paid. Betting is not common; the vast majority of it is done by a minority of people.

So that’s my view. It mostly stems from respect for two powerful systems: the free market, which can be extraordinarily efficient, and human psychology, which is impressively terrible at discerning objective reality.

That’s a high bar to clear in order for you to be good at betting—as good as you are at, say, driving a garbage collection truck, for which you can reliably generate $26 per hour.

So I don’t bet. I don’t like the feeling of losing money (or even risking it); I don’t receive much emotional gratification from winning it, since I’m very aware of how big a factor luck is; I suspect I would lose my nerve after a period of heavy losses; I’m primarily interested in learning how football works, not beating bookmakers; and, most of all, I don’t think it can be done reliably over the long-term without an oversized investment of time and energy. And maybe not even then.

You may be different, in which case, I wish you all the best! You go live your life your way. But I’ll be buying index funds.

More Model Updates for 2018

Got some more updates ahead of season 2018:

  1. Pre-season Tracking: We had something resembling a normal preseason this year, so Squiggle is using those results in its calculations for the season ahead.
  2. Round-based Sensitivity: Squiggle is now more sensitive in the early rounds and in finals, to better capture the important signalling of surprising results at these times. In particular, an unexpected Round 1 result can cause a team to move a very long way.
  3. Goal-kicking Accuracy: As flagged last year, since goalkicking accuracy seems to be non-reproducible — teams that are highly accurate one week aren’t more likely to be highly accurate the next — Squiggle will interpret a scoreline like 13.20 as a team that was unlucky to not win by more, and thus will rate them more highly, while a scoreline like 12.3 will be interpreted as a team that got closer than they probably deserved.
  4. Home Ground Advantage: Gone is the practice of assigning 12 points of home advantage to interstate hosts and ignoring everything else! Squiggle now calculates HGA based on relative ground & state familiarity: It scores each team on how many times they’ve played at the same venue and (less significantly) in the same state over recent years, and assigns HGA points based on how lopsided the numbers are. So at venues where both teams have played fairly often, ground familiarity is balanced and there’s not much HGA, if any. At venues where one teams plays a lot and the other team rarely even visits the state, HGA is high.

The main difference in practice is better modelling of Geelong in Melbourne, along with uncommon situations like Melbourne playing in the Northern Territory. For example, for the Round 1 Melbourne vs Geelong game at the MCG, under the old model Squiggle would give Melbourne 12 points of HGA, but under the new model, it’s only 2.5 points, due to the Cats’ fairly good familiarity with that ground.

Actually here are the current HGA values for all R1 matches:

  • Richmond +1.1 vs Carlton @ MCG
  • Essendon +7.9 vs Adelaide @ Docklands
  • St. Kilda +7.6 vs Brisbane @ Docklands
  • Port Adelaide +10.0 vs Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval
  • Gold Coast +10.3 vs North Melbourne @ Cazalys
  • Hawthorn -1.0 vs Collingwood @ MCG
  • GWS +9.0 vs Bulldogs @ UNSW Canberra
  • Melbourne +2.5 vs Geelong @ MCG
  • West Coast +10.9 vs Sydney @ Perth Stadium

Hawthorn are the only home team to have negative HGA. West Coast still get a bunch of HGA despite playing on a brand new ground due to the state-based numbers.

Fixture Analysis 2018: Home Ground Advantage

Note (July 2020): This post employs a very basic metric of Home Ground Advantage, where it’s basically all about geography. That’s good enough for roughing things, but I don’t believe it’s really the source of HGA, and my model hasn’t used something like this for a couple of years. The major determinant of HGA, I suspect nowadays, is the relative size of crowd support. I wanted to clear this up because I saw this post getting quoted to support an argument I don’t believe.

Home ground advantage is often overlooked, underrated, or just plain cocked up in fixture analysis. Which is strange, because it’s one of the most reliable predictors. We don’t know whether a team’s double-up opponents will become tougher or weaker in 2018, but we do know it’s always better to play interstate opponents at home.

In theory, all teams should face a balanced fixture, and travel to face interstate opponents the same number of times as they host them at home. But in practice, this doesn’t happen. Some teams enjoy home games against interstate opponents while staying local for their away games, and sometimes teams play “away” games at their home ground, with their opponents forced to travel to them.

This is home ground advantage fixture bias. The AFL does a pretty good job of managing it, but each year there are imbalances, with some sides coming out better than others, playing more games at favourable venues than unfavourable ones. While it’s not the only factor in fixture difficulty, I think it’s important enough to take a closer look. So in this post, I analyze every team’s fixture and discuss why it’s good, bad, or break-even.

Favourabity is the net total of points a team receives from home ground advantage during the season. Throughout 2018, Hawthorn will receive a net benefit of a little over five goals from home ground advantage, while the Suns will be penalized almost the same amount.

Favourability is calculated by classifying each game as one of three types:

Interstate advantage (+10): a team hosts an opponent who travels from interstate. This includes Geelong home games against Melbourne-based sides, given the Cats’ superb record there.

Local advantage (+1): a team hosts an opponent located in the same city.

Limited advantage (+5): a few specific cases: a Melbourne-based team hosting Geelong at the MCG or Docklands, Hawthorn or North Melbourne hosting a Melbourne-based team in Tasmania, and Melbourne hosting a Melbourne-based team in Darwin.

These numbers are, I think, generally accepted in AFL analytics. That is, it’s commonly agreed that interstate home advantage is worth somewhere in the realm of 10 points, while the advantage of playing a local team in your own city is almost negligible. If you want to adjust them a couple of points either way, though, I won’t quibble.


The Hawks travel to face interstate opponents four times, the fewest in the league, while interstate teams have to travel to face them six times, a league-high two-game discrepancy in their favour. On top of that, they play Geelong at home, which is worth +5, and they also have an “away” game against the Cats at the same venue. This effectively gives the Hawks 12 home games for the year, eight of which are against non-Melbourne sides.

That’s a remarkable number, only just short of the ten games that non-Victorian sides typically receive. In fact, it’s the same number as Gold Coast, who have to travel seven more times than the Hawks do to face interstate opponents.

And that’s not all: Hawthorn also take St. Kilda to Tasmania, which turns a +1 game into +5. The net result is a 32 point bonus over the course of the season.

+10 GAMES (x6)
R8: Sydney @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R10: West Coast @ Docklands (VIC)
R11: Port Adelaide @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R13: Adelaide @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R14: Gold Coast @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R17: Brisbane Lions @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
+5 GAMES (x3)
R2: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: St Kilda @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R21: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x3)
R1: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R4: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R20: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x6)
R3: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R5: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R16: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R18: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x4)
R9: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R15: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R19: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R23: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)


Fremantle are the lucky recipient of an “away” game against Gold Coast in Perth due to the unavailability of Carrara due to Commonwealth Games renovations. This transforms the game from -10 to +10, giving the Dockers 11 games with interstate advantage in their favour and only nine against.

+10 GAMES (x11)
R2: Essendon @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R3: Gold Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R5: Western Bulldogs @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R8: St Kilda @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R10: North Melbourne @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R12: Adelaide @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R15: Brisbane Lions @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R17: Port Adelaide @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R19: Hawthorn @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R21: Carlton @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R23: Collingwood @ Optus Stadium (WA)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R6: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R20: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
-10 GAMES (x9)
R1: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R4: Greater Western Sydney @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
R7: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R9: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R11: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R13: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R16: Melbourne @ Marrara Oval (NT)
R18: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)


Port Adelaide’s otherwise balanced fixture is tilted in their favour by playing Gold Coast at a neutral venue (China) instead of at the Suns’ home ground.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R1: Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R3: Brisbane Lions @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R5: Geelong @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R12: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R13: Western Bulldogs @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R14: Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R16: St Kilda @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R18: Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R21: West Coast @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R23: Essendon @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R8: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
-1 GAMES (x2)
R9: Gold Coast @ Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium (CHI)
R20: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
-10 GAMES (x9)
R2: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R4: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R6: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R11: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R15: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R17: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R19: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium (VIC)
R22: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)


Collingwood’s fixture is mostly balanced, with five interstate home games and five interstate away, but they benefit from playing Geelong at the MCG.

+10 GAMES (x5)
R2: Greater Western Sydney @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R11: Fremantle @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R17: West Coast @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R21: Brisbane Lions @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: Port Adelaide @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+5 GAMES (x1)
R8: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x5)
R5: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R10: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R14: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R18: North Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x6)
R1: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R3: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R9: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R12: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R16: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R19: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x5)
R4: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R7: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R15: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
R20: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R23: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)


The Bulldogs’ fixture is mostly balanced, with five interstate home games and five interstate away,
but they also have a game against Geelong at the Docklands, a venue in their favour.

+10 GAMES (x5)
R2: West Coast @ Docklands (VIC)
R4: Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: Gold Coast @ Mars Stadium (VIC)
R8: Brisbane Lions @ Docklands (VIC)
R19: Port Adelaide @ Mars Stadium (VIC)
+5 GAMES (x1)
R15: Geelong @ Docklands (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x5)
R3: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R6: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R11: Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R14: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R16: Hawthorn @ Docklands (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x6)
R10: Collingwood @ Docklands (VIC)
R17: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R20: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R21: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R23: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x5)
R1: Greater Western Sydney @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
R5: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R9: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R13: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R18: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)


Like Hawthorn, North benefit from dragging a Melbourne-based team to Tasmania, turning what should be a +1 game against the Saints into +5. Otherwise their fixture is balanced.

+10 GAMES (x6)
R6: Port Adelaide @ Docklands (VIC)
R9: Greater Western Sydney @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
R11: Brisbane Lions @ Docklands (VIC)
R16: Gold Coast @ Docklands (VIC)
R17: Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
R19: West Coast @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
+5 GAMES (x1)
R4: Carlton @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
+1 GAMES (x4)
R2: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: Hawthorn @ Docklands (VIC)
R8: Richmond @ Docklands (VIC)
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x5)
R3: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R14: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R15: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R18: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R23: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x6)
R1: Gold Coast @ Cazaly’s Stadium (QLD)
R7: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R10: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R12: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R20: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R22: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)


Richmond host interstate teams only four times, equal fewest in the league, while having to travel interstate themselves five times. But they more than make up for this by receiving two games against Geelong at the MCG, one of which is a nominal away game.

+10 GAMES (x4)
R4: Brisbane Lions @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R7: Fremantle @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R15: Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
R16: Adelaide @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+5 GAMES (x2)
R13: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R20: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x6)
R1: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R3: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R10: St Kilda @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R19: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R22: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R23: Western Bulldogs @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x5)
R5: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R8: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R11: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R18: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x5)
R2: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R9: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R12: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R17: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R21: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)


Geelong play just nine games at their true home and 13 games away, which is an enormous discrepancy. But since their Kardinia games are all rated +10 while their MCG and Docklands games are only -5, they come out even on balance.

+10 GAMES (x9)
R4: St Kilda @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R6: Sydney @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R7: Greater Western Sydney @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R10: Carlton @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R12: North Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R18: Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R19: Brisbane Lions @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R22: Fremantle @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R23: Gold Coast @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
-5 GAMES (x8)
R1: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R2: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R8: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R9: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R13: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R15: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R20: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R21: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x5)
R3: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R5: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R11: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
R16: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R17: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)


Sydney’s fixture is neatly balanced with 10 interstate games away, 10 at home, and 2 local bridge battles or whatever they’re called.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R2: Port Adelaide @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R5: Adelaide @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R7: North Melbourne @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R9: Fremantle @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R11: Carlton @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R13: West Coast @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R16: Geelong @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R18: Gold Coast @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R20: Collingwood @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R23: Hawthorn @ S.C.G. (NSW)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R3: Greater Western Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
-10 GAMES (x10)
R1: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R4: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R6: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R8: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R10: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R12: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R15: Richmond @ Docklands (VIC)
R17: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R19: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R21: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)


The Giants have a balanced fixture that is typical for non-Victorian sides, with ten interstate games away, ten at home, and two local bridge busters.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R1: Western Bulldogs @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
R4: Fremantle @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
R6: Brisbane Lions @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R8: West Coast @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R10: Essendon @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R12: Gold Coast @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R15: Hawthorn @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R17: Richmond @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R19: St Kilda @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R21: Adelaide @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R22: Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R3: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
-10 GAMES (x10)
R2: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R5: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R9: North Melbourne @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
R11: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R14: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R16: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R18: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R20: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R23: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)


Adelaide’s fixture is neatly balanced with ten interstate games away, ten at home, and two local showdowns.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R2: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R4: Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R6: Gold Coast @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R7: Carlton @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R9: Western Bulldogs @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R11: Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R15: West Coast @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R17: Geelong @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R19: Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R22: North Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R20: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R8: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
-10 GAMES (x10)
R1: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R3: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R10: Melbourne @ Traeger Park (NT)
R12: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R13: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R16: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R18: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R21: Greater Western Sydney @ UNSW Canberra Oval (ACT)
R23: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)


Brisbane’s fixture is neatly balanced with 10 interstate games away, 10 at home, and 2 local Q-Clashes.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R2: Melbourne @ Gabba (QLD)
R7: Collingwood @ Gabba (QLD)
R9: Hawthorn @ Gabba (QLD)
R10: Sydney @ Gabba (QLD)
R12: Essendon @ Gabba (QLD)
R14: Greater Western Sydney @ Gabba (QLD)
R16: Carlton @ Gabba (QLD)
R18: Adelaide @ Gabba (QLD)
R20: North Melbourne @ Gabba (QLD)
R23: West Coast @ Gabba (QLD)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R5: Gold Coast @ Gabba (QLD)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R22: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
-10 GAMES (x10)
R1: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R3: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R4: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R8: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R11: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R15: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R17: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R19: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R21: Collingwood @ Docklands (VIC)


West Coast’s fixture is neatly balanced with 10 interstate games away, 10 at home, and 2 local derbies.

+10 GAMES (x10)
R1: Sydney @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R3: Geelong @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R4: Gold Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R7: Port Adelaide @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R9: Richmond @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R11: St Kilda @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R14: Essendon @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R16: Greater Western Sydney @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R18: Western Bulldogs @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R22: Melbourne @ Optus Stadium (WA)
+1 GAMES (x1)
R20: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R6: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
-10 GAMES (x10)
R2: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R8: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R10: Hawthorn @ Docklands (VIC)
R13: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R15: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R17: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R19: North Melbourne @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
R21: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R23: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)


Carlton’s otherwise symmetrical fixture is tarnished by having to travel to Tasmania to play North Melbourne, turning what should be a -1 game into a -5 game.

+10 GAMES (x6)
R2: Gold Coast @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: West Coast @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R13: Fremantle @ Docklands (VIC)
R15: Port Adelaide @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R20: Greater Western Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
R23: Adelaide @ Docklands (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x5)
R3: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R8: Essendon @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R9: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R18: Hawthorn @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x4)
R1: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R14: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R17: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
-5 GAMES (x1)
R4: North Melbourne @ Bellerive Oval (TAS)
-10 GAMES (x6)
R7: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R10: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R11: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R16: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R19: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
R21: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)


This analysis may be too optimistic on Melbourne, even though they’re ranked fourth-last. That’s because the Demons host Adelaide and Fremantle in the Northern Territory, and these are classified as +10 games in Melbourne’s favour (hosting an interstate side at an alternative home ground), even though in practice, geography and history suggests it may not be deserved.

+10 GAMES (x5)
R10: Adelaide @ Traeger Park (NT)
R16: Fremantle @ Marrara Oval (NT)
R20: Gold Coast @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R21: Sydney @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R23: Greater Western Sydney @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+5 GAMES (x1)
R1: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x5)
R3: North Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R5: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R12: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R15: St Kilda @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R17: Western Bulldogs @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x5)
R4: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R6: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
R9: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R11: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x6)
R2: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R8: Gold Coast @ Gabba (QLD)
R14: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R18: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R19: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R22: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)


Essendon host interstate teams only four times but must travel away six times. They get a game against the Cats at the MCG, which helps, but not enough.

+10 GAMES (x4)
R1: Adelaide @ Docklands (VIC)
R4: Port Adelaide @ Docklands (VIC)
R18: Fremantle @ Docklands (VIC)
R19: Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
+5 GAMES (x1)
R9: Geelong @ M.C.G. (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x6)
R6: Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R7: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R11: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R15: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R16: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R21: St Kilda @ Docklands (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x5)
R3: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: Collingwood @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R8: Carlton @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R20: Hawthorn @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R22: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
-10 GAMES (x6)
R2: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R10: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R12: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
R14: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R17: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
R23: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)


At least there’s a plausible explanation for Gold Coast’s terrible fixture: the unavailability of their home ground. What’s behind St. Kilda’s shafting, I can’t say. Firstly, the Saints host interstate sides only four times while traveling six times, which is a heavy imbalance in itself. But whereas Essendon are compensated for the same issue with an MCG game against the Cats, there’s no such balm for the Saints, who are bound for Kardinia Park. They also must travel to Tasmania to play Hawthorn, which turns a -1 game into -5.

+10 GAMES (x4)
R1: Brisbane Lions @ Docklands (VIC)
R3: Adelaide @ Docklands (VIC)
R5: Greater Western Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
R12: Sydney @ Docklands (VIC)
+1 GAMES (x7)
R7: Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R9: Collingwood @ Docklands (VIC)
R17: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R18: Richmond @ Docklands (VIC)
R20: Western Bulldogs @ Docklands (VIC)
R22: Hawthorn @ Docklands (VIC)
R23: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
-1 GAMES (x4)
R2: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R10: Richmond @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R15: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R21: Essendon @ Docklands (VIC)
-5 GAMES (x1)
R6: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
-10 GAMES (x6)
R4: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)
R8: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R11: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R13: Gold Coast @ Carrara (QLD)
R16: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R19: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)


The Suns immediately drop 20 points by playing a home game against Fremantle in Perth, which turns what should be a +10 game into -10. Then there’s a home game against Port Adelaide in China, knocking down a +10 game to +1 (nominal home team in neutral venue). It leaves them with 11 games where interstate advantage will work against them and only eight when it will be in their favour.

+10 GAMES (x8)
R1: North Melbourne @ Cazaly’s Stadium (QLD)
R8: Melbourne @ Gabba (QLD)
R11: Geelong @ Carrara (QLD)
R13: St Kilda @ Carrara (QLD)
R15: Collingwood @ Carrara (QLD)
R17: Essendon @ Carrara (QLD)
R19: Carlton @ Carrara (QLD)
R21: Richmond @ Carrara (QLD)
+1 GAMES (x2)
R9: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium (CHI)
R22: Brisbane Lions @ Carrara (QLD)
-1 GAMES (x1)
R5: Brisbane Lions @ Gabba (QLD)
-10 GAMES (x11)
R2: Carlton @ Docklands (VIC)
R3: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R4: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (WA)
R6: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (SA)
R7: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium (VIC)
R12: Greater Western Sydney @ Sydney Showground (NSW)
R14: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium (TAS)
R16: North Melbourne @ Docklands (VIC)
R18: Sydney @ S.C.G. (NSW)
R20: Melbourne @ M.C.G. (VIC)
R23: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium (Gee)


Squiggle on Grand Final 2017

Richmond Tigers
Premiers 2017

Well holy shit! In animated form:

In Flagpole form:

Obviously I’m posting the above just for the enjoyment of Richmond fans, not because it offers any kind of analytical insight. That much is clear, because if there’s one thing Squiggle has been consistent on this year, it’s that THE TIGERS WILL NOT WIN THE PREMIERSHIP. It didn’t rate them as a team until late, and even then was confident that somewhere, sometime, the defensive gameplan would unravel as a more balanced side got hold of them and shook until all their mediocre players fell out.

Instead, for reasons that leave me equal parts baffled and tumescent, Adelaide turned up on Grand Final Day and played listless football. At no point did it look like an Adelaide game; instead, it always resembled a Richmond game: close and scrappy, with Tigers outworking and outrunning their opponents, taking risks, swarming, and halving and winning contests one by one until the weight of numbers was too great to resist.

In this way, it was the same story as the two previous Richmond finals – moreso, if anything, than the preliminary final, where GWS at least occasionally managed to look like a team not playing Richmond. Where Squiggle expected the Tigers inevitably to break down, they barely showed a crack.

Why this happened requires a closer look at game style than I can provide. But we can examine how unusual it is, and how it fits (or doesn’t) with other modern premierships.

Richmond’s triumph replaces the 20-year-old 1997 Adelaide premiership on the chart, leaving something of a two-island effect, with four defence-oriented flag teams set a short distance away from 16 balanced or attacking ones. On its face, that still looks like evidence that low-scoring teams do worse, especially if you consider the number of wrecks of premiership campaigns located here, most of which belong to Sydney, Fremantle and St. Kilda. But it’s very noticeable that it now hosts the two most recent flags. In fact, by the time next season rolls around, you will have to go back seven years to find a premier that wasn’t either defensively-oriented or Hawthorn.

So is it still better to be attacking? Plenty of evidence remains for the benefits of attacking football, but it stops rather abruptly at the end of 2015. In 2016, the four most defensive teams made prelims, while Adelaide, a high-rated attacking team, fell out unexpectedly in the semi-finals. 2017 has been more ambiguous, with another finals failures from defensive specialists Sydney (and, to a lesser extent, Port Adelaide), but a dominant finals campaign from the Tigers. Whether this means the game has evolved, it’s a temporary aberration, or squiggle has no freaking idea what it’s talking about, I leave to you.

In terms of raw dominance, the 2017 Tigers are rated tenth of those 20 flags, so pretty much bang in the middle, but 2nd for defence and 18th for attack.

The Tigers didn’t come from as far back ahead of finals as the Bulldogs did last year – no-one has – but they did move a long way by thrashing all three opponents. They also moved a long way over the course of the season, after a lacklustre 2016 that ended with an 88-point loss to the Giants and a 113-point belting at the hands of the Swans. Some travelled further, but no modern premier has started the year as far back as Richmond did in 2017.

On balance, the Bulldogs 2016 premiership remains the greater anomaly, given how poor they were leading into finals, the need to win 4 straight games, two of which were interstate, and the strength of their opposition, which was greater in 2016 than offered by the top four this year. But the Tigers are up there, particularly (from squiggle’s point of view) since they found success with a low-scoring game style that has a terrible historical strike rate.

Richmond had a generous draw in 2017, with only one double against a top-8 opponent (GWS) and three doubles against the bottom 5 (Carlton, Brisbane, Fremantle). It was also a good year to be thereabouts, with a very even competition and no dominant team; probably the least competitive top end field since 2009. But they were also unlucky not to have another close game or two fall their way, deserved to finish top 4, and were emphatic in dismantling each opponent once they got there.

On a personal note, thank you for following Squiggle 2017, and the earlier ones, if you’ve been on board for that. It’s been an amazing ride. But I think this is a good place to leave it, with the team I love obliterating my algorithm and demonstrating how much greater the game is than all the bullshit I do here. So I will stick around BigFooty but not start a squiggle thread next year. In the words of a great man, I am going to spend some time on my novel.

And again, holy shit. I remember complaining about how bad the Tigers were with a guy on my bus, and him saying don’t worry, we’d come good in a couple years. That was around 1986. We were on our way to school. I’ve followed this team through the 29-year period where we missed the finals 27 times. People don’t appreciate that; the numbers are too big to really comprehend what it’s like to be bad year after year and have that go on almost without break for three decades. Until this year, I’d never seen Richmond win a final in person – I have seen us get smashed from the opening bounce twice – and was too young to remember the last time we made a Grand Final. But now. Holy fucking shit.

I was expecting to be able to report here my experience on which is really worse: being bad forever or losing a Grand Final. All I can say is I still suspect it’s the first one.

I like football because it’s so divorced from reality, it doesn’t matter what else is going on in your life, everyone’s on common ground. It doesn’t matter who you are. You can connect to people and everything about the two of you is irrelevant except what you think of the teams, or how badly the AFL are managing the rules. It strips us all down to something simple and clean. That’s a great thing.

May your off-season be brief, your trades fruitful, and your spuds delisted.

Much love,


Squiggle on Preliminary Finals & Grand Final Preview

Squiggle trades in cold, hard data, so there will be no place in this post for barracking or bandwagoning. Sure, outside of this thread, I may be clicking LIKE hard and often on every pro-Richmond post I see. Sure, this is the first time Richmond have made the Grand Final since I was 9 years old, and my parents took me to the Royal Melbourne Show on Grand Final Day because it was less crowded. “You can watch the next one, Max,” they told me, and you know what? I bloody well will. I have a ticket and I am going. Sure, there were times when it felt like this would never happen in my lifetime. But you won’t catch me mentioning any of that here.

Both favourites won their prelims comfortably. But Adelaide were more impressive in defeating the Cats 136-75, while in PF2, or as squiggle knows it, “Who Wants To Be Slaughtered By Adelaide,” the Tigers ended the Giants 103-67.

That result leaves the Crows approaching somewhere near the gravitational centre of the squiggle’s premiership cups, which means their 2017 results are similar to those of many premiership teams from the last two decades. They’re still somewhat modestly rated for a premier, but they’re not far off it.

The Tigers, on the other hand, are a more niche model, belonging to a distinct class of teams with strong defences but mediocre attacks. That does include a few premiers, most notably the reigning premier (for a few more days, at least) in the Western Bulldogs, but many more who fell short, including a swag of Ross Lyon-coached teams.

Adelaide’s year bears a striking similarity to 2016, when the Crows also opened with a series of blisteringly high-scoring games, then began to tighten up defensively as well:

The Crows were squiggle darlings for most of last year before wobbling late and falling to the Swans in a semi-final that psychologically scarred Adelaide-based squiggle fans for all time. They still don’t look enormously different to that team, but they’re better balanced and the opposition standing in their path to a flag has been weaker, with GWS in particular less dangerous than the 2016 version.

The 2016 semi-final loss is interesting in light of this year’s Grand Final, because the 2016 Swans and 2017 Tigers look to have a bit in common, with both enjoying low-scoring slugfests. So one might wonder whether the Crows have a weakness in that area that the Tigers are designed to exploit. But by moving into the more balanced area of the chart, Adelaide are showing they’re more well-rounded and less brittle, better able to deal with a variety of game plans.

Fun Fact: Both Port Adelaide and Essendon remain eligible for a classical 4-Strike, by losing an Elimination Final to a team that lost a Semi-Final to a team that lost a Preliminary Final to a team that loses a Grand Final.

Squiggle is unique in placing a particular emphasis on attack-defence balance. Computer models commonly produce a single “strength” number and tip whoever’s strongest. Squiggle does this for all games except the Grand Final, where it leans heavily toward the team with the stronger attack, due to the over-representation of that trait in past premiers.

Without this, Squiggle would still tip Adelaide, as the overall better team, but far less emphatically.

Not only is Adelade the better-rated team, and not only do they have the better attack, but they’re also more balanced. Most Grand Final upsets have happened to unbalanced teams, such as Sydney 2016 (defensive specialist) and Hawthorn 2012 (attack specialist), and there are quite a few near-misses as well, like a well-balanced Port Adelaide coming within 3 points of attack-first Hawthorn in a 2014 prelim, and Geelong doing almost the same thing against the Hawks a year earlier. So while it’s been more rewarding to be a team that engages in high-scoring games rather than low-scoring ones, it’s also been preferable not to be too far one way or the other.

There are exceptions: The Bulldogs should have lost to GWS in last year’s prelim, according to this theory, and Geelong shouldn’t have lost to anyone in 2008. But in general, it’s ideal to be the best overall, the best attack, and the most balanced – and compared to Richmond, Adelaide are all three.

As such, Squiggle is very heavily into Adelaide, tipping the Crows by 41 points.

But that doesn’t mean the Tigers have no hope. While most of the Squiggle stable of algorithms are tipping Adelaide, there’s a healthy contingent of counter-tips from venue-based models, many of which take special note of Richmond’s amazing record at the MCG this year. That stable contains 202 algorithms at last count, and of the 36 that favour the Tigers, all of them pay special attention to the venue, either in the form of general interstate home ground advantage or results at the ‘G in particular.

That’s because Richmond haven’t had a bad match at the MCG since Round 8, when they lost after the siren to Fremantle. There were really only two Tiger embarrassments this year: one at the hands of the Crows at Adelaide Oval and another courtesy of the Saints at Docklands. But at the ‘G, Richmond have gotten better almost with each passing week. Their record since the bye looks like this:

  • defeated by Sydney by 9
  • def Carlton by 26
  • def GWS by 19
  • def Hawthorn by 29
  • def St Kilda by 41
  • def Geelong by 51
  • def GWS by 36

That compares favorably to the Tigers’ record away from the MCG, which is still good but shakier, including the aforementioned St Kilda humiliation as well as a loss to at Kardinia to Geelong.

The Crows’ record at the MCG over the same period is:

  • def Carlton by 12
  • drew with Collingwood

Their only other game there this year was a 24-point defeat of the Hawks in Round 2. So if you believe that the venue makes a difference, there’s plenty of reason to think it will strongly favour the Tigers. And it’s been a good year for venue algorithms: they’ve actually been the most accurate of the stable this year, both in terms of tips and average margin predictions. They don’t have the same long-term record, but they have had the better read in 2017.

It’s also worth mentioning that Squiggle has underrated Richmond all year, as it did with the Bulldogs last year. When a team improves quickly over a short period, as the Tigers have in rising from a 13th-placed finish last year, Squiggle takes time to be convinced they’re the real deal, since that kind of radical change is unusual, and more commonly signals a team that’s temporarily overperforming and will soon revert to their natural level. If the Tigers really have become a lot better at football in a short period, they may still be underrated.

In terms of similar Grand Finals, 2017 bears the most resemblance to 2006, when West Coast (a well-balanced and modestly rated team) defeated Sydney (a defensive specialist) by 1 point:

That was, of course, one of the great all-time cracking Grand Finals, so we’d be blessed to get anything like a repeat.

In summary: Adelaide are deserved favourites, and have the ability to kick away and win by a significant margin. But any footy follower knows anything can happen in football, and there’s room between a 15% chance and a 0% chance to drive a premiership cup through. If the Crows don’t break free from the Tiger stranglehold and get locked down into a scrappy, high-pressure series of ground contests; if they kick inaccurately; if the venue plays a role; then it will be a Richmond premiership.

P.S. I just wanted to finish the post with the phrase “Richmond premiership.”

Discuss on BigFooty!

Squiggle on Finals Week 2


Geelong were so impressed by the 90 to 40 thing that Richmond did that they tried it on the Swans. And it worked!

This was a wild upset in the most obvious sense, because Sydney haven’t looked like losing a game for a long time, unless they were playing Hawthorn. But it was also something of a typical 2017 performance for Geelong, who have spent the year backing up weak performances with strong ones, and vice versa.

What that means, I’m not sure. But it was a real shocker for the Swans, who have been so good, they’re still ranked #1 on regular form even after that pasting. But it’s time to lower their flag:

The Giants looked a different team as well, after trialling a new game style where they actually look interested in football. This is a bit alarming because they were pretty good even before they got interested in football. The Eagles, however, retreated back to their squiggle nest where they’ve spent the entire season. This could really be the least squiggling from a starting point ever.

Still, both the Giants and Cats are positioned quite a way outside the premiership area, with only two games to make up ground. Richmond are closer, but are lower-scoring, which, as discussed above, has proven problematic for teams in the past.

With Sydney out of the way, it looks like Adelaide in a canter.

That said, it’s worth remembering how probabilities work, and that a 70% chance of a win followed by an 80% chance of a win sounds like something approaching a sure thing, but in truth it’s close to a coin flip (0.7 x 0.8 = 0.56) as to whether Adelaide takes out the flag or not.

Also, while Adelaide have been ranked #1 by flagpole non-stop since Round 1, they haven’t gotten to the heights reached by teams like Hawthorn, Geelong and Collingwood of years gone by. They’ve been the best team all year, but not by a whole lot. It would be a real surprise for the Crows to lose from here, but not a shock.

Adelaide Crows vs Geelong Cats

Richmond Tigers vs GWS Giants


Discuss on BigFooty!

Why Squiggle is down on Richmond

Question via BigFooty:

Looking at the Flagpole at the moment: why is Geelong ranked so much higher than Richmond despite Richmond being ranked ahead of them in both offence and defence?

Because Richmond is in an area of the chart where good teams go to not win premierships.

Over the last twenty years, only three teams have done it from there: Bulldogs 2016, Sydney 2012 and Sydney 2005. All were upsets. Two were huge upsets, part of a series of other upsets.

Meanwhile, it’s been a graveyard for otherwise strong teams who failed to go all the way: Sydney 2016, Sydney 2015, Richmond 2015, Fremantle 2015, Sydney 2014, Fremantle 2014, Fremantle 2013, Sydney 2013, Fremantle 2012, St Kilda 2011, St Kilda 2010, Adelaide 2010, St Kilda 2009, Adelaide 2009, Sydney 2006, Adelaide 2006, Adelaide 2005, Sydney 2004, Geelong 2004, and Carlton 2001. I suppose I should add Sydney 2017 now, too.

Flagpole is different to the regular squiggle algorithm because it’s slanted to favour teams that look like past premiership winners, and not like teams that win games but not flags. That basically means it prefers teams with a strong attack, and dislikes teams that look like they’re being coached by Ross Lyon.

This is all done without any special reasoning; i.e. squiggle offers no theory on why, exactly, defensive specialist teams have done poorly in finals after successful regular-season campaigns. It just notes that they have, and expects the trend to continue. The landscape today may look very different if St Kilda had snagged a couple of flags in 2009 and 2010 and if Fremantle had managed it in 2013. But they didn’t, so this is the historical reality, which Richmond need to overcome.