9 Bold AFL Predictions for 2022 – Sam Walsh Wins the Brownlow Medal and More

| January 24, 2022 7:58 am PST

It’s always entertaining to make some bold predictions before the start of every AFL season, isn’t it? More often than not, the majority of these wacky AFL predictions don’t end up coming to fruition. But it’s fun, nonetheless.

With the new campaign scheduled to kick off on March 16, it’s time for me to share my predictions for the 2022 AFL season. You may think I’m crazy by the end of this. Who knows? You might even agree with some of my hunches.

Right, let’s get stuck into my bold AFL predictions for 2022.

Carlton Reaches the Finals (Finally)

The Blues haven’t featured in the finals for the best part of a decade. The last time they finished in the top eight was all the way back in 2013 – and that was thanks to Essendon’s supplements saga.

Carlton ended the previous campaign in thirteenth place after winning just eight of its 22 games. Under the guidance of David Teague, the club finished 12 points outside the finals spots, with only four teams picking up fewer points.

With all that in mind, Carlton fans may think I’m pretty brave for backing their side to finish inside the top eight this year. But hear me out.

The Blues will enter the 2022 season with a new coach at the helm. Ex-Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss was appointed following Teague’s sacking, having played a key role in Port Adelaide’s rise over the past few years.

Although Voss won’t be able to call upon the retired Liam Jones, the new coach has inherited an exciting young squad. With Sam Walsh (more on him in a second) leading the charge, Carlton should make the finals.

Don’t get me wrong, the Blues almost certainly won’t claim the flag. But I can see them enjoying a much-improved campaign in 2022.

Sam Walsh Wins the Brownlow Medal

Across the course of last season, Sam Walsh established himself as one of the best players in the AFL. Footy fans already knew that he was a special talent, but he cemented his status among the sport’s elite in 2021.

It is easy to forget that Walsh is still just 21. I mean, he has already picked up multiple awards during his short career – including the Jon Nicholls Medal, Ron Evans Medal, and Mark of the Year. He even became an All-Australian last year.

Thanks to a stellar breakout season, the gun midfielder finished fourth in the 2021 Brownlow Medal rankings. In 2022, I’m backing him to go one better and win the award.

2021 BROWNLOW MEDAL VOTES
Player Club Votes
Ollie Wines Port Adelaide 36
Marcus Bontempelli Western Bulldogs 33
Clayton Oliver Melbourne 31
Sam Walsh Carlton 30

Walsh averaged 29.8 disposals per match last season, along with 5.8 marks and 4.5 tackles. The 6ft youngster has very few flaws in his game, making him a prime Brownlow contender.

If Walsh does get his hands on the prestigious award this year, he will be the youngest Brownlow Medalist since Trent Cotchin in 2012. If his performances last season are anything to go by, there is no reason why he can’t achieve that feat.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Walsh is among the bookmakers’ favorites to win the Brownlow Medal in 2022. If fancy wagering on the winner of the award, be sure to check out the post below.

Previewing the 2022 AFL Brownlow Medal – Includes Betting Odds, Contender Analysis, and Predictions

Predicting who will win the Brownlow Medal is a fun pre-season tradition for all AFL fans. Over the years, the league’s best and fairest award has been handed out 108 times to 89 different players. Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines scooped the...

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Richmond Returns to the Top Four

We all know that Richmond fell by the wayside in 2021. The 2020 premiers failed to defend their crown in spectacular style, winning just nine of their 22 matches.

The Tigers finished twelfth on the ladder last season, picking up a sorry 38 points in the process. By contrast, first-place Melbourne racked up 70 points – underlining the gulf between the two sides.

Still, I’m confident that Richmond will make a resurgence in 2022. Let’s not forget that Damien Hardwick’s men have won three of the past five premierships. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Last 5 AFL Premiers
  • 2017: Richmond
  • 2018: West Coast
  • 2019: Richmond
  • 2020: Richmond
  • 2021: Melbourne

It is also worth noting that Richmond registered four consecutive top-three finishes between 2017 and 2020. The club has been a dominant force in the AFL in recent years, so it shouldn’t struggle to return to the top.

The Tigers were plagued by injury last season, too, with key man Dustin Martin spending a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The three-time North Smith Medalist should be back to his best in 2022.

With stars like Jack Riewoldt, Shane Edwards, and Shai Bolton also in their ranks, the Tigers should bounce back and secure a top-four berth this year.

Max King Wins the Coleman Medal

The next of my AFL predictions for 2022 concerns the Coleman Medal.

Geelong’s Tom Hawkins was the competition’s top goalkicker last season, booting 62 goals in 25 games. Melbourne’s Bayley Fritsch finished second with 59 goals, while Carlton’s Harry McKay came third with 58.

Max King, meanwhile, racked up 38 goals – meaning he finished 21st on the Coleman leaderboard. But if he picks up where he left off at the end of the previous campaign, he could win the award in 2022.

Granted, the young St Kilda forward wasn’t the most accurate kicker during the first half of last season. But he cut loose toward the end of the year. He smashed in ten goals across Rounds 16 and 17, posting a six-goal haul against West Coast.

King has kicked 60.50 from 38 matches over his short career. If he can start turning more behinds into goals, he will almost certainly challenge for the Coleman Medal in 2022.

West Coast Misses the Finals (Again)

The Eagles missed out on the finals for the first time since 2014 last year. Despite spending 19 weeks inside the top eight, they eventually finished ninth on the ladder – four points behind eighth-place Essendon.

A four-game losing streak at the end of the campaign saw West Coast drop out of the finals spots. When you look at the bigger picture, Adam Simpson’s men lost nine of their last 13 games.

It is no secret that West Coast has an aging squad. Key performers such as Josh Kennedy, Brad Sheppard, Shannon Hurn, Jack Redden, Nice Naitanui, and Luke Shuey are all in their thirties, with other stars players approaching that age.

The Eagles are by no means the weakest team in the AFL (sorry, North Melbourne fans!), but I can’t see them finishing inside the top eight this time around.

North Melbourne Gets Another Wooden Spoon

On the topic of the weakest team in the AFL, let’s talk about the Kangaroos.

The four-time premiers endured one of their worst-ever seasons last year, finishing six points adrift at the foot of the ladder. As a result, they collected their first Wooden Spoon in 49 years.

The Roos kicked off their 2021 campaign with an eight-match losing streak before finally picking up their first win of the year in May. They won three of their final nine games to restore some pride, but the damage had already been done by then.

To make matters worse, they ended up with a whopping 2075 points in the against column last season. Unsurprisingly, they were the only side to concede 2000+ points.

Unfortunately for North Melbourne, I don’t see things improving in 2022.

Coach David Noble has added former Gold Coast midfielder Hugh Greenwood to his squad. Even so, the Kangaroos look set to struggle this year. At the end of the day, they are nowhere near the level of the top teams in the league.

Having won just four of their 22 matches last season, the Roos are on course to collect back-to-back Wooden Spoons in 2022.

Clayton Oliver Tops the Disposals Leaderboard

Since Clayton Oliver finished second on the disposals leaderboard last season, this may not seem like one of my craziest AFL predictions for 2022. But if he goes one better this year, it will be a phenomenal achievement.

First, outperforming Jack Macrae would be an achievement in itself. The Bulldog notched a colossal 880 disposals last season, posting the highest single-season total since records began.

As the table below details, however, Oliver was Macrae’s nearest challenger.

MOST DISPOSALS (2021 AFL SEASON)
Player Club Disposals
Jack Macrae Western Bulldogs 880
Clayton Oliver Melbourne 789
Ollie Wines Port Adelaide 777
Tom Mitchell Hawthorn 754
Christian Petracca Melbourne 730

Although Oliver played a key role in Melbourne’s premiership triumph, he didn’t always get the credit he deserved last season. Max Gawn’s displays toward the end of the campaign took the spotlight off Oliver before Christian Petracca went wild in the Grand Final.

That said, the 24-year-old still managed to pick up his third Keith “Bluey” Truscott Trophy in five years and also received an All-Australian selection for his troubles.

I’m backing Oliver to chalk up the most disposals in 2022.

Matt Rowell Becomes an All-Australian

There is a sense that Matt Rowell could become of one the greatest AFL players of all time. The 20-year-old has displayed unrivalled potential during the early stages of his career, but injuries have hampered his development.

The Gold Coast prodigy produced a series of best on ground performances in his debut AFL season before sustaining a serious shoulder injury. Sadly, 2021 wasn’t kind to him either.

Rowell picked up another injury in Round 1 of the previous campaign and didn’t return until Round 13. By that time, the Suns were out of finals contention – meaning Rowell came back into a struggling side.

With a full pre-season under his belt, the young gun looks set to light up the AFL in 2022. Of course, it will take him a while to get up to speed. But if he stays healthy, there is no reason why he can’t secure All-Australian honors.

I’m super excited to track Rowell’s progress this year. He is a gem of a player, so I expect him to take the competition by storm in 2022.

Western Bulldogs Win the Premiership

It’s only right that I close out my predictions for the 2022 AFL season by sharing my pick for the premiership. Drum roll, please… it’s the Western Bulldogs!

It’s safe to say that Luke Beveridge’s men see-sawed their way through the previous campaign. At one stage, they looked set to become minor premiers before an iffy late season run saw them drop out of the top four altogether.

The Dogs then beat Essendon, Brisbane, and Port Adelaide en route to the Grand Final before succumbing to Melbourne in the showpiece. Still, they have more than enough firepower to bounce straight back.

Marcus Bontempelli needs no introduction. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is one of the best young players in the comp. Josh Bruce is set to return from injury. Plus, the addition of Sam Darcy makes the Doggies a seriously strong unit.

If the bookmakers’ odds for the 2022 AFL premiership are anything to go by, the Western Bulldogs should give the Demons a real run for their money. That’s why I’m backing them to clinch the flag.

Wrapping Up My AFL Predictions for 2022

Well, that concludes my bold AFL predictions for 2022.

What do you make of my thoughts? Whether you agree with some of my AFL predictions, or you think I’m completely crazy, feel free to drop a comment below and let me know what you think.

Even if you think some of my predictions for the 2022 AFL season are a bit too wild, I’m sure we can all agree that the upcoming campaign is destined to be a thriller, right?

Keep an eye on our sports blog in the lead-up to the new season, as I will be sharing more AFL content in the coming weeks. You will also be able to find free betting advice and predictions via our AFL picks when the campaign gets underway.

In the meantime, whey not head over to our top-ranked AFL betting sites and check out all the exciting futures for 2022?

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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