Early Betting Preview for the 2021 AFL Season
Like many other sports around the world, the 2020 AFL season was ravaged by the pandemic.
Following a ten-week lay-off, the previous campaign was reduced to 17 rounds, with the Tigers clinching their third premiership in four years.
But in 2021, the AFL returns to normality.
The new campaign, which is scheduled to kick off on Thursday, March 18, will revert back to 23 rounds, with the grand final returning to the famous MCG.
In this post, I take a look at the bookies’ odds for the upcoming season and assess the favorites for the 2021 AFL premiership.
Early 2021 AFL Premiership Odds
No shocks here!
Having dominated the league over the past four years, Richmond (4.50) heads into the new season as the 2021 AFL premiership favorites with all the top online betting sites.
However, as you can see, Geelong (5.50) – last season’s beaten finalists – aren’t too far behind on the bookmakers’ odds list.
Defending minor premiers Port Adelaide (8.50) are likely to challenge again, while Brisbane (9.00) will be expected to back up a promising 2020 campaign.
West Coast (9.00), Western Bulldogs (13.00), Collingwood (15.00), and St Kilda (17.00) make up the bookies’ top eight.
Assessing the Favorites for the 2021 AFL Premiership
Despite finishing six points behind Port Adelaide and Brisbane on the ladder, the Tigers navigated their way through a tricky finals series to clinch back-to-back flags.
In 2021, Damien Hardwick’s side will aim to become just the third team this century to win three consecutive premierships.
After seeing off the Saints and the Power to reach the grand final, Richmond secured an impressive 31-point victory over Geelong to seal the deal at the Gabba.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Richmond legend Dustin Martin got his hands on another Norm Smith Medal, becoming the first man in AFL history to win three.
Is Dustin Martin the greatest 'big game' player the @AFL has ever seen?— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) October 24, 2020
??? Four goals, 21 touches and a THIRD Norm Smith Medal.
He becomes the first player to win the medal three times. Unbelievable. #AFLGF #AFLGrandFinal #AFLTigersCats pic.twitter.com/NkUMidqDto
Of course, the question is – can the Tigers do it again?
Well, I think you’d be foolish to bet against them.
Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt each kicked 28 regular-season goals last term, while experienced duo Shane Edwards and Dion Prestia shone throughout the campaign.
With budding defender Jayden Short fast becoming one of the best players in the league, Richmond’s team is packed with quality.
At the end of the day, Hardwick’s squad boasts strength in depth in every department. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if the Tigers clinched three straight flags.
It goes without saying that Geelong will be desperate to put last season’s failure behind them and go one better in 2021.
The Cats haven’t won a premiership since 2011, meaning the last term was the closest they have come for the best part of a decade.
Still, Geelong supporters have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
In Tom Hawkings, the Cats undoubtedly possess one of the best goalkickers in the league. The 32-year-old claimed the 2020 Coleman Medal by notching up 42 goals – ten more than his nearest challenger.
|2020 COLEMAN MEDAL STANDINGS|
|Charlie Dixon||Port Adelaide||32|
|Josh Kennedy||West Coast||31|
We all know what Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett are capable of, and with Jeremy Cameron recently swapping GWS for Geelong, Chris Scott’s forward line just got a whole lot better.
Cameron was the Giants’ leading goalkicker in each of his nine seasons with the club, earning himself the Coleman Medal in 2019. There is no denying that he will enhance the Cats’ attacking game.
After winning the minor premiership in 2019 and going all the way to the grand final in 2020, Geelong must now use all their experience to secure the top prize in 2021.
Port Adelaide (8.50)
It’s fair to say that Port Adelaide’s minor premiership triumph came out of nowhere last season.
Before 2020, the Power had only managed to register one top-eight finish in five years. But having ended up all the way down in tenth in 2019, Ken Hinkley’s men rose to the summit last term.
The South Australians won 14 of their 17 regular-season games, and they did so by keeping things tight at the back. Indeed, Port Adelaide boasted the best defensive record in 2020.
The Power also had the second-best scoring record, with Charlie Dixon finishing second to Tom Hawkins on the Coleman Medal rankings.
Hinkley’s side saw off Geelong in the qualifying finals, although they eventually fell to Richmond in the preliminary finals. But after pushing the Tigers all the way, the Power will be full of confidence heading into the new campaign.
Needless to say, Hinkley’s men must hit the ground running in 2021 and pick up where they left off last season. If they don’t make a strong start, they could find themselves falling by the wayside.
I think the Lions can count themselves pretty unlucky to have come away from 2020 without anything to show for their efforts.
Like the Power, Brisbane only lost three regular-season games last term. The Queenslanders finished level on 56 points with the minor premiers, yet an inferior point percentage saw them end up second.
Chris Fagan’s side even beat the eventual premiers in the qualifying finals, securing their first victory over Richmond since 2009 – snapping a 15-game losing streak against the Tigers.
But a damning 40-point preliminary-finals loss to Geelong ultimately saw the Lions fall one game short of the main event.
On a brighter note, Lachie Neale was awarded the 2020 Brownlow Medal. The midfielder enjoyed a phenomenal campaign last year, further cementing his status as one of the league’s greats.
With Joe Daniher arriving in Brisbane from Essendon during the offseason, Fagan’s forward options are even stronger now. The giant ex-Bomber will naturally take some pressure of Charlie Cameron, who was the Lions’ leading goalkicker last term.
Brisbane secured three straight flags between 2001 and 2003, but the Queenslanders haven’t had much to shout about since then. Could a return to the glory days be just around the corner?
One thing’s for sure – the Lions are now capable of competing with the very best teams in the league again.
West Coast (9.00)
The Eagles have arguably been of the AFL’s most consistent sides in recent times.
After clinching the premiership in 2018, the Perth outfit reached the semi-finals in 2019 before claiming back-to-back fifth-place finishes last season.
Although Adam Simpson’s men failed to make it past Collingwood in the 2020 elimination finals, you simply cannot leave them out of the 2021 premiership conversation.
With veteran Josh Kennedy showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon and youngster Oscar Allen continuing to enhance his glowing reputation, I’m expecting West Coast to challenge for silverware again this year.
The Eagles struggled slightly for goals last term, with six teams racking up more points in 2020. However, Simpson’s men finished the regular season with one of the best defensive records in the league.
If the Western Australians can find the right balance between defense and attack this year, they will almost certainly find themselves at the right end of the ladder in 2021.
Looking Ahead to the 2021 AFL Season
Following a much-disrupted 2020 campaign, AFL fans can look forward to somewhat of a normal season in 2021 – fingers crossed!
The new campaign will kick off on Thursday, March 18, with the annual season-opener between Richmond and Carlton getting things underway at the MCG.
With the opening six rounds of fixtures being crammed into a little over a month, we will have a whopping 54 games to enjoy across the first five weeks of the 2021 campaign.
Due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, just four states will host AFL matches for the foreseeable future – Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania.
As things stand, it is difficult to look past Richmond. The Tigers have been immense over the past few years, so they will take some beating in 2021.
But with teams like Port Adelaide and Brisbane on the rise, as well as the ever-present threat of Geelong, we could easily see new premiers this year.
If you’re thinking about wagering on the AFL in 2021, I highly recommend checking out our AFL betting guide.