AFL Prediction & Analysis

GWS: A History

The notable thing about GWS is how bad they used to be. This is maybe best to see on a plot of all squiggles from 2000-2017:

With GWS highlighted:

GWS were worse than any other team this century. And they were that bad for a long time. Only Melbourne are really comparable.

Then they got better!

View post on

Squiggle on Round 6

Lots of validation this week for the squiggle theory that teams don’t suddenly get a lot better or worse very often, with Richmond, Fremantle, and Essendon looking more like their owners put them up on blocks and spent the summer tinkering with the engine, rather than going out and buying a new car.

But not Sydney! Sydney are the strange one: a team that looked like a sports car throughout 2016 but then seem to have traded in for my old “fire engine red” 1978 Gemini.

The 2017 Sydney Swans

Animated squiggling:

The Hawks crashed again, but the only surprise there was how bad it was; we knew they were wobbling toward the middle of the road with the bumper hanging off, but we didn’t know there was a tram coming the other way. A number 96 tram, bound for St Kilda, this week.

But it was all good for Adelaide, who cruised past the Tigers while Geelong lost to the Pies and GWS barely outlasted the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs currently look locked in a battle for a Top 4 spot with Port Adelaide, who also had a good week. In fact, the Power may well have a real vehicle here, as they haven’t had a bad squiggle all year, so could wind up leaving the Cats and Dogs to fight for 4th. But for now, it’s looking like this:

Or in animated form:

Tons of uncertainty through the middle, with many teams capable of finishing all over the place.

It’s worth noting how bad Brisbane are. They were terrible late last year and have been consistently terrible all this year. I keep hearing talk about how improved they are and I don’t get it. Only a handful of teams in the last 10 years have had a sub-40 Defence rating in the squiggle, including the expansion clubs, and Brisbane is just camping out there. It’s pretty hard to find wins when you can’t stop the opposition from scoring.

And for all the talk of the Tigers’ new attacking game style, they’re still a defensive team. A couple of games in the wet haven’t helped, but there isn’t much evidence that they can score well against good opposition.

So after 6 rounds we have:

  • Teams with improved 2017 models: Port Adelaide, Richmond, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Essendon, Fremantle, St Kilda (only because of their last game), Geelong (being generous).
  • Teams still driving their 2016 models: Brisbane, West Coast, GWS, Collingwood, North Melbourne, Melbourne, Carlton, Western Bulldogs (being generous).
  • Teams still driving their 2016 models and there’s this weird noise whenever you brake that you should have had checked out months ago and now there’s smoke coming out: Hawthorn, Sydney.

Flagpole! Squiggle hasn’t rated the Tigers like their 5-0 start would suggest, but the Crows’ 76-point win was still enough for yet another week of “yay Adelaide.”

There was a question earlier about how Sydney can rated so highly when they face a challenge to even make finals. And the answer is yes, this is more or less an “if they make finals, how will they go” rating. More specifically, it’s an algorithm that survived a deathmatch against tens of thousands of other algorithms in a competition to rank the eventual premier highly during the season. It hasn’t been trained to care about teams lower down the pecking order, so long as they’re not bumping out the eventual premier. And it’s completely ignorant of how likely the team is to make finals and whether they get home games or double chances if/when they get there.

I can probably improve this now that squiggle is actually running season simulations, but for the moment, it’s a “premiership form” rating, where it rates highly teams who are most delivering results similar to those of premiers from the last 20 or 30 years.

Discuss on BigFooty!

An Early Look at the Best and Worst Defences

Figuring Footy is using shot position data to study how different teams protect the big sticks:

As seems to happen more often than not these days, the frantic, high scoring pace of the first couple of rounds has started to wear off, and strong, composed defensive efforts are once again having a big say on who’s winning games. As longtime readers will have seen in the lead up to the Grand Final last year, shot location data can give us a great idea of the capabilities and tactical styles of different defences in the competition.

Source: An Early Look at the Best and Worst Defences – Figuring Footy

The Bookies Bite Back

Punters have known best lately, with the favorites returning 7 tips in each of the last two rounds.

But Figuring Footy is still claiming first place off the back of a great season opening!

Tips Bits

5 9 4 6 7

31 4.1117

4 8 4 7 7

30 5.6630

5 8 4 7 6

30 4.6239

5 8 4 6 7

30 4.0893

5 7 5 6 6

29 1.0637

4 7 4 6 7

28 3.8395

3 8 4 6 7

28 3.3945

5 8 5 5 5

28 1.5787

Disaster for Squiggle, which went out on a limb on Round 5 tips for North Melbourne over Fremantle, and the Demons over the Tigers, and came up short on both.

You can now track these numbers in the new auto-updating Tip Leaderboard.


Squiggle on Round 5

A good week for the top 3 in Adelaide, GWS and Geelong, who opened up a fair gap on the rest:

Squiggle also appreciated Port Adelaide pounding the snot out of Carlton to the tune of 90 points.

The rest of the top 7 slid, although for different reasons: The Western Bulldogs got the job done against Brisbane, but not very well; Sydney fell to GWS, which was expected, but not by that much; and West Coast were thumped in a game they were expected to win against the Hawks.

That was a great result for Hawthorn, as a bunch of mid-table teams also went nowhere. So while a week ago they were staring into the abyss, now they’re back in the fight, one of those teams who might plausibly finish in a range of different spots, because everyone’s pretty evenly matched:

Horrible for Collingwood, though, who are this week’s team to most resemble the passage of digested food through a lower intestine.

The Tower is very suggestive of a top 3 of Adelaide, GWS, and Geelong. The bottom 2 is looking a lot like Carlton and Brisbane. Beyond that, though, things get less certain. From 9th down to 16th, the tower slices are nearly vertical, with plenty of teams capable of finishing in each slot.

In fact, the ladder predictor has 7 teams finishing with 9 wins, which would be really something:

It’s an inflection point this week, with Richmond expected to start dropping games and Sydney expected to start collecting them. If that doesn’t happen – if Richmond even run it close against the Crows in Adelaide, or Sydney don’t win by much against Carlton – they will move on the squiggle.

Essendon had a good week, beating Collingwood in the ANZAC game, and Brisbane showed something against the Bulldogs, albeit off the back of Inside 50 conversation rates so eerily good that they were probably a statistical fluke.

The Tigers did it again this week, being almost exactly two goals better than expected, which, again, is good but not great. As a result, squiggle is showing a huge disparity between Richmond’s likelihood of making finals (very good) and winning the flag (no chance):

Are North and Hawthorn bad, or have they just faced a tough draw?

From Hurling People Now:

Almost every credible (and non-credible) football journalist in the country has waxed lyrical about the decline of the Mighty Hawks, and the Considerably Less Mighty Roos. Both sides were finalists in 2016, but have gotten off to tough starts in 2017, a combined 0-8 through a month of footy.

Source: Are North and Hawthorn bad, or have they just faced a tough draw? | Hurling People Now