Predictions, Betting Tips, and Picks for Round 1 of the 2022 AFL Season (March 16-20)

| March 14, 2022 2:21 am PDT

The 2022 AFL season gets underway this Wednesday, March 16, with a rematch of last season’s grand final between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. What better way to kick off the new campaign?

In truth, there are blockbuster clashes right across the AFL Round 1 schedule. From Carlton and Richmond’s traditional curtain-raiser on Thursday to the small matter of the Sydney Derby on Saturday, there is no shortage of top-class footy action to look forward to.


  • Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs
  • Carlton vs. Richmond
  • St Kilda vs. Collingwood
  • Geelong vs. Essendon
  • GWS Giants vs. Sydney
  • Brisbane vs. Port Adelaide
  • Hawthorn vs. North Melbourne
  • Adelaide vs. Fremantle
  • West Coast vs. Gold Coast

Join me as I go over my AFL Round 1 predictions and betting picks. After covering my featured games, I will share the rest of my AFL predictions before evaluating the best AFL bets for Round 1.

Melbourne to Beat Western Bulldogs

After finishing two points clear of second-place Port Adelaide on last season’s ladder, the Demons secured their first minor premiership since 1964. A few weeks later, they finally ended their 57-year premiership drought.

Melbourne crushed the Western Bulldogs by 74 points in the 2021 Grand Final, sealing a 140-66 victory in front of 61,118 fans at Optus Stadium. But what will happen when they go head-to-head at the MCG almost six months later?

Of course, the Bulldogs will give the Dees a run for their money. But I’m confident that Melbourne will come out on top once again. Let’s not forget that Luke Beveridge’s boys finished ten points behind the premiers last season.

Bayley Fritsch booted a whopping six goals in last year’s showpiece. Consequently, the 25-year-old Demon is my pick for the 2022 Coleman Medal.

Sydney to Beat GWS Giants

When you look at the 2021 AFL ladder, you will see that Sydney finished one place ahead of GWS. However, it is worth remembering that sixth-place Sydney also finished 14 points clear of seventh-place GWS.

The Swans won 15 of their 22 matches, meaning only the top three teams picked up more wins. They also ended the campaign with the third-best offensive record after kicking 1986 points during the regular season.

On the flip side, the Giants accumulated just 1768 points and also conceded 117 more than Sydney. That tells you everything you need to know about the gulf in quality between the two rivals.

The legendary Buddy Franklin heads into the new season on 995 career goals. Nobody would be shocked if he hit quadruple figures on Saturday. If he carries on the way he’s going, he could go down as one of the greatest AFL players of all time.

Port Adelaide to Beat Brisbane

After securing the minor premiership in 2020, it was always going to be difficult for Port Adelaide to live up to expectations last year. However, the South Australians enjoyed another hugely impressive season.

Ken Hinkley’s men finished second on the ladder after winning the same number of matches as Melbourne. If it weren’t for the Demons’ draw Hawthorn in Round 18, they would have had company atop the standings.

As for the Lions, they finished fourth – eight points behind the Power. Although they booted more points than any other side in 2021, they ended up falling short once again.

Port star Ollie Wines collected the 2021 Brownlow Medal following a standout campaign on a personal level. If the bookmakers’ odds for the 2022 Brownlow are to be believed, Wines is in pole position to defend his crown.

Hawthorn to Beat North Melbourne

We all know that North Melbourne endured a dismal time in 2021. Indeed, the Kangaroos lost 17 of their 22 matches last season – leaving them six points adrift at the foot of the ladder.

Not only did the Roos end up with the second-worst offensive record in the comp, but they also posted the worst defensive numbers. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that North recorded the worst point percentage, too.

Granted, the Hawks only managed to pick up seven wins last year. But they still finished 14 points ahead of the Roos. Although their percentage of 85.2 was nothing to write home about, it made North’s 70.3 look terrible.

Having been selected by North as the No 1. draft pick, Jason Horne-Francis is among the betting favorites for the 2022 AFL Rising Star. Still, I expect him to be on the losing side in Round 1.

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More AFL Predictions for Round 1

Here are the rest of my AFL Round 1 predictions.

  • Richmond to Beat Carlton
  • St Kilda to Beat Collingwood
  • Geelong to Beat Essendon
  • Fremantle to Beat Adelaide
  • West Coast to Beat Gold Coast

I’m confident that Richmond will dispatch Carlton on Thursday. After missing out on the finals last season, the Tigers will be eager to make amends this year.

On Friday, I’m backing St Kilda to get the better of Collingwood. Let’s not forget that Collingwood finished second from bottom in the 2021 standings, 16 points behind tenth-place St Kilda.

I also expect Geelong, Fremantle, and West Coast to win in Round 1. Facing Essendon, Adelaide, and Gold Coast, respectively, they should come away from the opening weekend with four points in the bag.

My Top AFL Betting Picks for Round 1

It’s now time for my AFL Round 1 picks, courtesy of the best AFL betting sites.

Geelong vs. Essendon – Geelong to Win1.62
Brisbane vs. Port Adelaide – Port Adelaide to Win2.50
West Coast vs. Gold Coast – West Coast to Win1.73

Third-place Geelong finished 20 points clear of eighth-place Essendon last season. For that reason, I’m backing the Cats to down the Bombers at BMHBA Stadium on Saturday.

Priced at 1.53, Brisbane is the favorite to beat Port Adelaide. But I recommend backing the Power at 2.50. Given that the South Australians finished eight points ahead of the Queenslanders last year, 2.50 is a very generous price.

The last of my AFL bets for Round 1 concerns West Coast vs. Gold Coast. The Suns kicked the fewest number of points in 2021, so I expect the Eagles to soar to victory on Sunday.

Looking for more AFL content to get you in the mood for the new season? Be sure to check out the blogs below.

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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