Predictions and Betting Picks for AFL Round 23 (2021)
It’s crunch time. Following six months of high-octane footy, we have reached the final round of the 2021 AFL regular season – and there is still so much to play for!
Three sides – Melbourne, Geelong, and Port Adelaide – stand a chance of clinching the minor premiership this weekend, while six teams can still mathematically fill the remaining two finals spots.
Here is the AFL Round 23 schedule in full.
- Western Bulldogs vs. Port Adelaide
- Richmond vs. Hawthorn
- Sydney vs. Gold Coast
- Brisbane vs. West Coast
- Geelong vs. Melbourne
- Carlton vs. GWS
- St Kilda vs. Fremantle
- Essendon vs. Collingwood
- Adelaide vs. North Melbourne
The top four sides go head-to-head this weekend, with first-place Melbourne visiting second-place Geelong on Saturday. The Dogs will be hoping to spoil the party when they host Port on Friday night.
Elsewhere, the bottom clubs in the comp – Adelaide and North Melbourne – wrap things up on Sunday.
Let’s get stuck into my predictions for AFL Round 23, starting with my Western Bulldogs vs. Port Adelaide prediction. At the end of this piece, I will share my top AFL picks for Round 23.
Port Adelaide to Beat Western Bulldogs
Port heads into Round 23 on a hugely impressive five-match winning streak, having crushed Carlton by 95 points last weekend. The Power have now won eight of their previous nine games and find themselves four points ahead of the Bulldogs as a result.
The Dogs, on the other hand, come into the final round of the regular season on the back of two straight losses. Defeats to Essendon and Hawthorn have seen Luke Beveridge’s men wave goodbye to their minor premiership dreams.
To make matters worse, the Dogs will be without their top goalkicker for the remainder of the campaign. Josh Bruce – who has booted 48 goals this year – will spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines after rupturing his ACL.
Port still stands a chance of winning the minor premiership, so I’m backing them to overcome the languishing Dogs on Friday night.
Hawthorn to Beat Richmond
It’s safe to say that 2021 has been a year to forget for Richmond. Indeed, the defending premiers will need a miracle to finish inside the top eight on the final weekend of the regular season.
The Tigers’ inconsistency is underlined by a record of nine wins and 12 losses this year. Having suffered seven defeats in their previous nine outings, the reigning champs’ fall from grace has been one of the standout stories in 2021.
In fairness, the Hawks have also endured a wretched campaign. That said, a run of three consecutive victories has seen them climb the ladder and move to within just six points of Richmond.
After seeing off Brisbane, Collingwood, and the Bulldogs in their past three encounters, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hawthorn sealed a fourth straight win this weekend.
Sydney to Beat Gold Coast
Having won six of their last seven matches, the Swans find themselves 16 points inside the top eight. But perhaps more importantly, they sit a whopping 28 points clear of fourth-bottom Gold Coast.
The Suns have been nothing short of dreadful this season, winning just seven of their 21 games. With four losses coming in their previous five, they will surely struggle to contain the likes of Buddy Franklin and Tom Papley this weekend.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I expect Sydney to seal a straightforward victory over Gold Coast.
Brisbane to Beat West Coast
Not so long ago, it felt as though West Coast had nailed down a top-eight spot. However, a damaging three-match losing streak has left the club needing a win on the final weekend of the regular season in order to secure finals footy.
A run of three defeats in four games saw the Lions stumble last month, too. But they have since turned things around – winning each of their previous two outings.
Brisbane totally demolished Collingwood last weekend, with Charlie Cameron kicking six goals in the 85-point rout. Joe Daniher (3.2) and Daniel McStay (3.1) also starred, while Nakia Cockatoo and Lincoln McCarthy each booted a couple of goals.
While the Lions appear to be peaking at just the right time, the Eagles are moving in the opposite direction. With that in mind, a Brisbane win is on the cards here.
Melbourne to Beat Geelong
With first-place Melbourne sitting two points ahead of second-place Geelong, the equation is simple: the winner of this match will take the minor premiership.
After picking up five straight wins, the Cats faltered against GWS a fortnight ago – going down by 19 points. Last time out, they could only manage a slender win over St Kilda.
Meanwhile, the Demons have found their feet again. Following a run of just two wins in six matches, the ladder leaders head into Round 23 on the back of three straight wins, with last weekend’s 41-point thrashing of Adelaide underlining their strength.
This is destined to be a tense and cagey encounter. But based on a recent form, Melbourne should edge out Geelong.
GWS to Beat Carlton
Carrying a record of 10-1-10 into the final weekend of the regular season, it’s fair to say that Greater Western Sydney has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the comp this year. Still, they can secure a finals berth this weekend.
The Giants notched 106 points against Richmond last time out, with Tim Taranto (4.2) and Harry Himmelberg (3.0) controlling the game. As a result, they have now won three of their last four matches.
On the flip side, Carlton heads into Round 23 of the back of successive defeats. The Blues have now lost four of their previous six outings and sit ten points behind GWS on the ladder.
I’m confident that GWS will dispatch Carlton this weekend.
Fremantle to Beat St Kilda
Fremantle kept their top-eight hopes alive with a statement victory over WA rivals West Coast last weekend. The Dockers snapped a six-year derby losing streak in the process.
The Saints, meanwhile, suffered another defeat in the previous round – going down to Geelong. They have lost four of their past five matches, all but ending their chances of competing in the 2021 finals series.
Ultimately, this matchup brings together two sides in contrasting form. For that reason, I’m backing Freo to get the better of St Kilda on Sunday.
Essendon to Beat Collingwood
Holding on to the eighth-finals series berth, the Bombers know they can’t afford to lose this weekend. Thankfully for them, they come up against lowly Collingwood in Round 23.
The Magpies – who sit just six points clear of last-place North Melbourne – have endured an embarrassing campaign. Not only have they lost four of their last five outings, but they have also won just six matches all year.
Of course, Collingwood will be eager to finish the season on a high. But I can’t see that happening. Essendon heads into this clash on the back of two straight victories and shouldn’t struggle to extend their winning streak to three games.
Adelaide to Beat North Melbourne
Adelaide and North Melbourne have played a combined total of 42 games this year. Sadly, they have only managed to accumulate ten wins between them.
When you consider that statistic, it is hardly surprising that these two sides occupy the bottom two spots on the ladder. The Crows could climb a couple of places with a win this weekend, but the Kangaroos have already picked up the wooden spoon.
Both teams have lost four of their last five matches, too, making it difficult to pick a winner here. That said, Adelaide claimed a 109-68 win over North earlier in the campaign.
In front of their home fans for the last time this season, the Crows should have enough to overcome the Roos.
My Top AFL Picks for Round 23
That’s it for my Round 23 AFL predictions – but I’m not finished yet! Here are my best AFL bets for Round 23.
Sydney vs. Gold Coast
The Aussie rules betting sites have priced Sydney at 1.20 to beat Gold Coast, pointing towards an easy home win. In order to get better value, however, I recommend backing Sydney to win by 25+ points.
The Swans have won six of their last seven matches and have chalked up 90+ points on five occasions in that time. Considering Gold Coast has one of the weakest defenses in the comp, Sydney should seal a comfortable victory this weekend.
- Pick: Sydney to Win By 25+ Points (1.70)
Brisbane vs. West Coast
Brisbane became the first side to kick 2000 points this year, crushing Collingwood 142-57 last weekend. The Lions have now won three of their previous four games, booting at least 118 points in each of those victories.
West Coast, on the other hand, heads into Round 23 on the back of three straight losses. Backing Brisbane to win at 1.25 is a good safe bet, but I suggest adding the 40+ points market into the mix to boost the odds.
- Pick: Brisbane to Win By 40+ Points (2.60)
St Kilda vs. Fremantle
At 1.73, St Kilda is the bookies’ favorite to win this one. However, I’m going against the AFL oddsmakers on this occasion and backing Fremantle to come out on top.
The Dockers have won two of their last three games and still have the incentive of finals footy. By contrast, the Saints have lost four of their previous five outings and will need a miracle to finish in the top eight.
- Pick: Fremantle to Win (2.10)