Welcome back to the Power Rankings.
The gap between the top three and the rest is growing, but the fourth seed at this stage looks solid. As for the bottom ten, there’s changes everywhere.
What are the Power Rankings? This is our attempt to rank every AFL club from best to worst. We take wins and losses into account, but also the quality of opposition faced and whether teams are likely to get healthier or improve going forward. It’s a little bit ‘who’s hot and who’s not’; part predictive, part analysis of what’s happened. If Team A is above Team B, we’d probably tip A to win if they’re playing this weekend.
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1. MELBOURNE (8-0, 148.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 1
If you were playing the non-existent Clarkson AFL 2022 video game in franchise mode as Melbourne, you’d be simulating the next two weeks. Seriously, putting the Demons against the Eagles and then North Melbourne is bordering on cruelty. There is basically no world in which Melbourne isn’t 10-0 heading into a mouth-watering showdown with Fremantle in Round 11.
Next game: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, Sunday twilight
2. BRISBANE LIONS (7-1, 151.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Good thing for the Lions their fixture is playing out the way it is – they might get Eric Hipwood back this week, but he’s not needed to urgently replace Joe Daniher and Dan McStay, who may each be back within a month. Away games against Adelaide and Hawthorn aren’t simple but this incredible high-powered offence should still be good enough to win both, plus beat GWS at the Gabba… but jeez, they’re cutting it close for Round 12 against Fremantle in the west, aren’t they? We really want that game to be representative of these two sides at their best. Fingers crossed it is.
Next game: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval, Saturday night
3. FREMANTLE (7-1, 153.2%)
Last week’s ranking: 3
We strongly considered putting Fremantle second this week, given that they’re closer to full strength than Brisbane (even after losing six to Covid), and we think were more impressive in their easy Round 8 win than Chris Fagan’s side. If there’s a serious (positive) gap between their performance and the Lions’ over the next couple of weeks, we’ll make the switch. But the Dockers can’t overlook the Suns on the road, and that Round 11 Dees clash at the MCG is just looming larger and larger on the horizon.
Next game: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium, Sunday early
4. GEELONG CATS (5-3, 126.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Sydney and St Kilda losing helped, but that was a strong, contender-like win by the Cats over GWS, easily seeing them return to fourth in these rankings behind the clear top three contenders. There was a bit of a furore around their stodgy kick-mark ball movement out of defence against Fremantle; even at the time that seemed a bizarre criticism, given how well the Dockers’ system is working, and how often that Cats play works against 90 per cent of the comp. They still possess a very powerful attack. Down back, the emergence of young defender Sam De Koning – who over the last five weeks is sixth in the AFL for intercept marks and sixth-best in the comp for winning one-on-ones – is helping them keep in touch with the Dockers, Demons and Lions.
Next game: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, Saturday twilight
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5. SYDNEY SWANS (5-3, 118.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 4
The one piece of good news about Sydney’s bizarre trend of struggling against lowly Gold Coast – they’ve lost to them in each of the last three seasons – is that whatever Stuart Dew knows about how to beat them, not everyone else has learned to copy it. The Swans have actually struggled at their home ground for a few years now, losing six games plus a final there in 2018, though they went 6-2 there last year. They’re already 2-2 at the SCG this year and Essendon has played the ground very well in recent seasons. It seems safe to say if the Swans are going to make a top four charge this year, they’ll have the weakest home ground advantage of the bunch.
Next game: Essendon at the SCG, Saturday night
6. ST KILDA (5-3, 117.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Saints didn’t attack the Demons in the right way – we’re not saying we know the right way, but whatever they did wasn’t it – but the hope is that it can be a learning experience. Brett Ratten said the game taught them what the best footy looks like, and it’s better to be aware of that now with time to work towards matching it. Despite losing their last six meetings with the Cats, they played them pretty well in their two 2021 games. In fact they met in Round 9 last year too – and could’ve won it, with Max King’s goalkicking proving a problem. He’s been pretty good this year, so perhaps this time they get the chocolates?
Next game: Geelong Cats at Marvel Stadium, Saturday twilight
7. CARLTON (6-2, 111.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 9
Remove the Gold Coast game where Patrick Cripps was injured early in the contest, and the Blues’ captain is averaging 33 disposals, 17 contested possessions, nine clearances and two goals. He has become the player everyone said he was a few years ago; he is absurdly good. He is not the only reason they are 6-2 – and they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record – but rebuilding his body and getting him to impact the scoreboard are two of the biggest factors.
Next game: GWS Giants at Giants Stadium, Sunday afternoon
8. RICHMOND (4-4, 116.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 11
The top seven isn’t locked, but it looks pretty solid, so there’s a race for eighth going on. If you want to make the case for the Tigers – other than the fact they own it right now – it’s about their weapons and scoring potential. Even with the huge West Coast win throwing out their numbers a bit, they’re still an exciting outfit at their best, and if Richmond does make it into the finals nobody is going to want to play them given their experience. We want to see them do it a few more times in a row before fully buying into them, though. After all we’re only a few weeks on from the Adelaide loss, which looks even worse now.
Next game: Hawthorn at the MCG, Saturday early
9. PORT ADELAIDE (3-5, 98%)
Last week’s ranking: 12
It has taken a while for the change to stick, but it’s fully in effect now. Since Round 4, Ken Hinkley’s side has gone from being afraid of the boundary line when coming out of their defensive 50, to being friends with it – from 17th for using it when exiting D50 to second. By playing safely, they’ve stopped leaking scores from the opponent’s D50, from ranking 18th (worst) to now just fourth. With Charlie Dixon finally on the way back, their forward line can continue to rebuild as well. And thanks to the middle of the ladder being so wide-open, three straight wins (and likely a fourth) have the Power right back in the finals mix. They might be on track for the reverse 2013, when they started 5-0 and were soon 5-5, finishing 12-10 and winning an elimination final over Collingwood.
Next game: North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena, Saturday afternoon
10. WESTERN BULLDOGS (3-5, 102.6%)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Look: injuries are clearly ravaging the Bulldogs right now. They’re missing key members of the team in pretty much every area of the ground. But that’s not a big enough excuse for their scoring problems – they’ve scored more than 71 points just three times all year, and in the last six weeks only against North Melbourne and Essendon’s leaky defences. They’ve reverted back to their problems of recent seasons where their forward entries are either haphazard or to poor locations. If the midfield is giving them enormous supply they can overcome that; right now it isn’t, so they can’t. They need to get things right quickly because they have looked nothing like a top four contender this season, and at this point they’re probably scratching and clawing just to get into eighth. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Next game: Collingwood at Marvel Stadium, Friday night
11. COLLINGWOOD (4-4, 104.9%)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Darcy Moore actually had quite a good game when you look at the AFL Player Ratings – it’s just that Tom Lynch was absurdly good. Dropping four spots in this week’s rankings sounds like a lot but that’s just more about how close this mid-pack group of teams is. Carlton is two games safe in the eight and we think the 5-3 Cats, Swans and Saints are all very good, so the Magpies are still in the hunt for that last spot in eighth. Knocking off the Dogs would help their case, and help ruin the Dogs’.
Next game: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, Friday night
12. HAWTHORN (3-5, 92.8%)
Last week’s ranking: 10
As good as the Bombers were in that last quarter and a half or so, the Hawks were bad. Realistically it was closer to what you’d expect from a group with plenty of young players and missing a few key parts, especially in defence. There were still reasons for optimism from Saturday night, like Max Lynch’s early showing. But this will happen with Hawthorn as they continue to develop. As their percentage shows, they’ve dropped off a little bit from the middle of the pack – only they, North Melbourne and West Coast have lost in each of the last three rounds – but they still feel closer to the eight than the bottom four.
Next game: Richmond at the MCG, Saturday early
13. GOLD COAST SUNS (3-5, 89.9%)
Last week’s ranking: 15
Relocate the Suns to Sydney! After all they’ve won four of their last five at the SCG now. We keep mentioning it but jeez the Ben King injury is even more frustrating when you watch Gold Coast play this year. Their percentage of roughly 90 is extremely respectable – better than two of last year’s finalists – and they basically haven’t been embarrassed in any game this year. You can’t say that about many of the bottom 10 teams.
Next game: Fremantle at Metricon Stadium, Sunday early
14. GWS GIANTS (2-6, 79.9%)
Last week’s ranking: 13
As we wrote last week: “This is what the Giants are: a fine footy team with the potential to be very good when their stars are firing.” Against Geelong they didn’t live up to that potential at all, showing the gap between Leon Cameron’s side and the true top four contenders this year. So we’re back where we were before the Adelaide win. The Giants are completely capable of beating Carlton this week, since they pretty much always beat Carlton, but we can’t trust them to make any sort of finals push at this point.
Next game: Carlton at Giants Stadium, Sunday afternoon
15. ESSENDON (2-6, 78.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 16
What a win. We’re more about stats and facts over soft factors like emotion – and Peter Wright kicking six straight was a pretty big part of Saturday night’s comeback – but it’s hard to argue against the idea pressure was eased on the Bombers when they were forced into five late changes. All night they played better than they have for a while, and that exciting last quarter was very… dare we say it, momentum-y. (Momentum is a way to explain random events happening in a row.) Anyway – as we’ve said for a couple of weeks now, the Bombers were better than their record, and pretty much any of the teams from them up to Richmond in these rankings can beat each other in any given week. Heck, Essendon could definitely beat Sydney this week. We’re not brave enough to pick it but if you need an upset pick to gain on whoever’s leading your tipping comp…
Next game: Sydney Swans at the SCG, Saturday night
16. ADELAIDE CROWS (3-5, 82.7%)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Two pretty awful losses have undone all of the Crows’ hard work that saw them gain the footy world’s respect with a 3-3 record, including wins over Richmond and the Bulldogs. The talent that brought them those wins is still there, and much like we’ve said over the last couple of weeks when Essendon has been 16th, the gap between 16th and say, eighth in these rankings is pretty small right now. It’s just that Adelaide’s worst makes them look like they’re still early in their rebuild. And at some point we have to start asking questions about how many of their high draft picks keep getting stuck in the SANFL…
Next game: Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval, Saturday night
17. WEST COAST EAGLES (1-7, 52%)
Last week’s ranking: 18
We hope this doesn’t come across as condescending at all – but only losing by 75 points at the Gabba, given the Eagles’ issues, is pretty damn respectable. And thus they move off the bottom. Hopefully things ease up for them next w-ahh. Melbourne. Never mind.
Next game: Melbourne at Optus Stadium, Sunday twilight
18. NORTH MELBOURNE (1-7, 55.6%)
Last week’s ranking: 17
Yes, playing Fremantle in the west is tough this year. But three goals? After the Dockers had to make six changes through Covid, even more than West Coast? Come on. We feel like we’ve been pretty understanding of North Melbourne through this rebuild but that was just yuck.
Next game: Port Adelaide at Blundstone Arena, Saturday afternoon