AFL Prediction & Analysis

Squiggle on holidays

Away on holidays for the next week so there will be no posting, sorry.

Also as soon as I got on the plane, the Squiggle bot lost its connection with Figuring Footy, so we are without its tips until I get back and fix it. This means FF will be horribly misrepresented on the top leaderboard until then, unfortunately. But in the meantime you can source FF directly from!

Squiggle on Round 11


A good week for Geelong, who were able to lock away a win over major competitor Adelaide. They and Port Adelaide were the only teams at the top to have a positive week.

But the Giants have a lot going for them right now! By rights, their injury crisis should have seen them drop a couple of games, and then we’d be debating whether they could claw those back when they get more talent back on the park. But no. They skate along, winning all the close ones, keeping their chances of playing home finals intact.

GWS are the most balanced team in contention, and their squiggle shows where they go when they have something approaching full strength. That all makes for a very formidable combination come September.

Aside from that, not a whole lot of action this week, with results shaking out more or less as expected. The Tigers and Bombers did well, though, and it was especially handy for Richmond that the Kennedy-less Eagles are struggling, as those two teams are both fairly likely to finish 5th-8th, where home finals matter.

Gold Coast’s win sent Sydney to 16th on the ladder on the weekend, so Squiggle is looking for one heck of a run from the Swans from here.

At this point it’s very likely that the top 3 will come from GWS, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Geelong, and the Bulldogs. That’s also the most likely top 5, but there’s much more uncertainty in the 4th and 5th slots, with the Dogs in particular capable of plausibly finishing just about anywhere.

Flagpole still likes Adelaide.

Discuss on BigFooty!

What do we really know about Port Adelaide?

Hurling People Now is another great AFL analysis site that’s definitely worth your time. My only complaint is that their weekly review goes up so close to the first game, unless you catch it right away, the round is half-over and everything has changed. You should do it earlier, HPN.

This week the focus is on Port Adelaide and why the analytical community is so high on them (even before last night’s impressive dismantling of Hawthorn):

Round 10 ratings

The interesting thing, though, is the footy world doesn’t yet have much a track record for Port against teams in the vast middle tier of either the ladder or strength rankings. They have beaten the four current bottom sides and a 7th-placed Fremantle with a giant asterisk hovering over them. They’ve lost to the top three sides and then to 6th-placed West Coast in a truly weird game.

Source: What do we really know about Port Adelaide? | Hurling People Now

Are West Coast too Dependent on Kennedy?

Figuring Footy on West Coast’s unique reliance on Josh Kennedy:

A narrow focused, key-forward structure has typified the Eagles’ year so far. Unlike other teams who rely on either midfielders pushing up or a multi-faceted forwardline to kick a winning score, the 2017 Eagles have relied on a few key forwards kicking bags, and when they haven’t been able to, the whole team has struggled.

Source: Are West Coast too Dependent on Kennedy? – Figuring Footy

Squiggle on Round 10

Only one genuine upset this week, for a change, with the Hawks surprising Sydney at the SCG. Aside from that, we had two games that always looked likely to be close (Geelong pipping Port Adelaide and the Giants scraping home against the Eagles) plus a bunch of wins by favourites.

But there was still plenty of chart movement, with some of those wins turning out to be bigger than expected:

It was Adelaide’s week, since a 100 point win is always a big deal, even when it comes at home against Fremantle, a team that should never have been allowed to pretend it was 5th. I mean, it’s Round 10, for God’s sake. We had North Melbourne on top and undefeated this time last year and that still wasn’t as absurd as the Dockers’ ladder position.

Fremantle remain above Port Adelaide on the ladder, separated by one win (in the Dockers’ favour) and 62.9 percentage points (in Port’s). This is pretty crazy. Either one of Fremantle being top 8 with a percentage of 81.5% and Port being outside the top 7 with 144.4% would be remarkable. Currently we have both at once.

The Western Bulldogs had a good week, too, keeping St Kilda to just 50 points. That’s worth some significant sideways squiggling.

There’s actually a bit of lateral spread on the chart this week, with defensive teams defending and attacking teams attacking. The Bulldogs and Tigers in particular were defensive specialists last year and are headed that way again in 2017. And going in the other direction are North Melbourne and the Gold Coast, who have leaned towards attack in the past and still seem to be going that way.

Sydney are more balanced in 2017, but only because their defence has fallen away, which makes them look more like a normal team instead of the defensive specialist they’ve been for most of this century.

The Swans remain a surprisingly good prospect for finals, though. They’re 15th, and with the bye next week, will be 16th if Gold Coast beat the Eagles. That should rule them out completely, with the Bulldogs up next, and a bunch of other contenders in their run home, including the Giants, Cats, and Crows, the Hawks in Melbourne again, and the Tigers at the MCG. But despite all that, they’ve shown enough fight that it’s still plausible that they go 8-4 from here. And 11 wins may be enough to finish 8th.

Similarly, North Melbourne are going along all right. Their 0-5 start hides a bunch of very close losses, and the fact that they’ve been a much stronger team than most people expected in 2017.

Squiggle is still fairly pessimistic on Richmond, with the Tigers failing to put anything really convincing on the scoreboard against Essendon. But they did win! That was nice.

As a random oddity, Richmond are what you get if you combine Brisbane’s attack with Adelaide’s defence. Which sounds horrible, but actually isn’t that bad. So if Richmond and Brisbane played the same team, they would kick the same score, but Richmond would keep the opposition to less. And if Richmond and Adelaide played the same team, they would keep the opposition to the same score, but Adelaide would kick more themselves.

E.g. Squiggle tip at home vs West Coast:

  • Brisbane 81 – 122 West Coast
  • Richmond 81 – 78 West Coast
  • Adelaide 112 – 78 West Coast

Port Adelaide were expected to just fall short against the Cats, so don’t move anywhere much on the chart. But dropping a 50/50 game is bad news for your ladder position, so it hurt their top-2 prospects quite a lot. Especially since Adelaide and GWS both won.

And who’s still #1 on Flagpole? Yes! That’s right!

Discuss on BigFooty!


Footy Forensics: Adelaide to GWS

Matt Cowgill of The Arc has been publishing fantastic analysis on his own site for ages. This year he’s been picked up by ESPN. I feel like every major newspaper and sports site will have their own legit stats person pretty soon. But for now it’s this:

There are a lot of stories buried in footy stats. We’ve combed through the numbers to find something notable about each team – their style of play, or their dominance of a part of the ground, or the way they share the ball around.

This week, we analyse Adelaide through to GWS.

Source: Footy Forensics Your AFL club’s key game trend

Squiggle on Round 9


Everyone knows the AFL ladder is a filthy liar until at least the halfway mark of the season, but right now it has its own alt-right web show advertising male vitality pills. The official ladder is so full of crap, it could and should be dumped outside Punt Road as a warning for the Richmond coach.

More on that later. It was a great week for Sydney, who came to Melbourne to face a red hot St Kilda, and played like they just remembered they were a pre-season flag favourite.

It was also an excellent week for Essendon, who put the Eagles down by 10 goals.

Adelaide returned to the winners’ list, although an 80-point victory over Brisbane was only par. Maybe even below par, if you consider the number of Lions scoring shots. Still, that was better than GWS, who managed to extract a win from their game against the Tigers only after a twist of fate so heinous, DVDs of the game should only be allowed to be sold under the counter in Canberra. I just want to say, it goes to show that the Geneva Convention has a long way to go before the world can be truly free of acts of horrific torture and abuse. Also that when you think you’ve been hurt so badly you can never feel anything again, you actually can. You can.

I’m going to the Dreamtime game this weekend and I already feel twitchy and fragile, like I’m coming home to an abusive husband, and the house is dark, and I’m pushing open the door and I just know he’s in there somewhere, sitting in his chair, smoking. I just hope this time he’ll be good to me.

Anyway. After three wins by minuscule margins, the Giants are flattered by their ladder position. They’re also suffering through an injury blight, so it may all even out. But Squiggle thinks close wins are only a little better than close losses, at least in terms of rating team strength. There’s quite a lot of good evidence that the result of close games is a coin toss, with teams winning close ones due to luck more than skill.

Some will inevitably string together a series of close wins or close losses, the same way that if you toss a coin many times, you’ll eventually get a run of heads or tails. But it’s not reflective of an ability to keep doing so, so when this happens, the team’s ladder position becomes deceptive.

Fremantle notably did this in 2015, becoming an incredibly unlikely minor premier, and duly crashed down the ladder the following year. But here they are again in 2017! They’re sitting 5th with a percentage that would make a 14th placed team blush. Certainly a lot of that is because of one terrible game, when they lost by 89 to Port Adelaide. But with victories by 2, 5, and 2 points, and no close losses, they could very easily be bottom 6.

So the official ladder is lying. We’re more likely to wind up with something like this:

And believe it or not, Brisbane are also flattered by their ladder position, with their sole win so far this year coming by 2 points at home against Gold Coast in Round 1. None of their 8 losses have been close.

Port come off the killer bye this week, so that will be interesting. They managed to improve their standing during their off-week, mainly thanks to the Eagles sliding.

We’ve had a super-likely wooden spooner for quite a while, but the race for 17th is coming down to just three teams: Gold Coast, Hawthorn, and Carlton, and most likely one of the latter two.

Flagpole! It’s Crow favouritism, as usual. Flagpole still loves you, Adelaide.

Pray for me.

Discuss on BigFooty!

Who’s Tipping Now? The Leaderboard After Round 9

A tumultuous week for tipsters, with the two leading models in Figuring Footy and Matter of Stats taking a stand against the pack and getting whacked for it. Meanwhile FMI collected 7 tips and shot all the way to the top!

Tips Bits

5 7 5 6 6 6 4 5 7

51 0.1635

5 8 4 7 6 6 3 5 6

50 4.4093

4 8 4 7 7 6 3 5 5

49 4.5399

5 8 4 6 7 6 3 5 5

49 3.7614

3 8 5 6 7 7 4 5 4

49 2.3556

5 9 4 6 7 6 3 5 4

49 1.1776

4 7 4 6 7 6 3 5 5

47 3.4325

5 8 5 5 5 6 3 5 5

47 1.1082

This puts the bookies back above the aggregate. Booo.

Still, that’s not bad. It’s a tall order to beat the market odds, especially in a simple head-to-head contest of tipping every game. The market knows more and can react quickly; a couple of times this season, it’s swung the right way just before a game’s kick-off.

Also worth noting, of course, that 2017 has been a shocker for tipping. The aggregate (and the market) are both running at 61.25%, which is well below par, even for those years before the AFL included expansion teams you could count on to get regularly beaten.