The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to round twenty-one.
Western Bulldogs v Greater Western Sydney (ES) 7.50pm
Like Voltron assembling, the Giants get back Toby Greene and Jonathon Patton this week, in an ominous sign for the rest of the competition.
One of the fun things about this game will be seeing if Greene can get through it without doing something stupid. Apparently, he’s been working on not hitting people.
It must be an awful affliction to live with, constantly accidentally hitting people, like some physical Tourette’s syndrome.
This week we had Steve Johnson announce his retirement, adding to an already long list for season 2017. The list of footy greats leaving the game at the end of the season is impressive.
I’m just glad I got to see Jesse White play.
Stevie J has provided us with highlights and suspensions in equal measure. His career Match Review Panel fines are equal to the GDP of Romania.
For the Bulldogs, this is like an elimination final, which maybe when they play their best footy. The Bulldogs had some retirement news of their own this week, with Matthew Boyd announcing he’ll finish up this season.
Boyd’s one of those annoying people who got the most out of their talent through sheer hard work. Those people make me feel small.
I’m tipping the Giants to win this.
Sydney v Fremantle (SCG) 1.45pm
Sydney will be without Josh Kennedy again this week, but in good news, they’re playing Fremantle.
One thing I realised as the threat of nuclear annihilation hung over us again this week, was that it wouldn’t be all bad, we wouldn’t have to watch Ross Lyon’s style of football anymore, so there’s a silver lining in that atomic mushroom cloud.
While Fremantle’s season has been one to forget, things are going well for the Swans, with the re-signing of Sam Reid and beating the Cats in Geelong last week.
Sydney’s relentless competence over many years stands out so much because it’s surrounded by so much relentless incompetence. It’s possible only nuclear Armageddon will ever stop them making the finals.
Swans to win.
Geelong v Richmond (SS) 2.10pm
Jack Riewoldt is back now that his sight has returned and your eyes are not deceiving you; the Tigers are sitting in third and doing a very good impression of a top AFL side.
How impressed am I with the Tigers at the moment? Well, I briefly thought about believing in them the other day.
I obviously refrained from taking the next step, believing in them. There’s too much history, but I at least thought about it. I’m even open to the possibility of one day believing in them. I’m just taking it slow, I’ve been burnt before and don’t want to get hurt again.
While Tigers fans are up and about, Geelong fans have had a torrid week, with the loss to Sydney and the injury to Joel Selwood.
The surgery to the bravest ankle in footy has put a sizable dent in the Cats’ Premiership aspirations.
Are the Cats done without Selwood? Well, the short answer is yes. Like a motorbike that’s blown one of its tyres, the Cats have to finish the race basically with all their weight on one tyre.
It’s possible but unlikely.
I’m tipping the Tigers here, but we all know this is like to hurt me.
Brisbane v Gold Coast (G) 4.35pm
The Rodney Eade era is over but did it ever really begin? It felt an awful lot like the Guy McKenna era.
On the Gold Coast, the announcement was met with shock.
“We have an AFL team?” Was the standard response.
People have been pointing out Eade inherited a basket case, and it would be fair to say he left it as he found it. Oh well, it’s not like the Gold Coast Suns have cost the AFL hundreds of millions of dollars.
One thing I will say, is I have a lot of faith in the Gold Coast Board making the wrong choice in appointing Eade’s successor. Luckily for those few Suns fans, the Suns Board won’t be making the decision, the AFL will.
Brisbane have caught a break with Gary Ablett and Tom Lynch both out for this ‘Q Clash.’
The Lions are a basket case too, but here they have a chance to prove they’re slightly less of a basket case.
I’m tipping the Lions.
Essendon v Adelaide (ES) 7.25pm
Jobe Watson’s retirement announcement this week certainly stirred up a lot of feelings.
It made the confirmation that James Hird has accepted the chance to present the Norm Smith medal seem even more fraught. There could be more booing than when Meatloaf performed.
Depending on who you listen to, Jobe is either a martyr on a level we haven’t seen since Jesus, or he is the biggest drug cheat since Lance Armstrong.
The internet doesn’t exactly do nuance well. The problem seems to be that for all reports Jobe is a nice person. Lance Armstrong certainly never had this levelled at him.
Nice people can make mistakes though. Being nice is not enough evidence to clear someone, despite the Good Bloke policy that operates in the AFL.
On the other hand, Jobe certainly falls well short of Lance Armstrong’s cheating, even if you believe everything he was accused of.
I tend to fall somewhat in the middle. I think there are questions over Jobe’s knowledge and reaction to the supplement program that never have and may never be answered to any satisfaction, that does leave a question mark over his career.
He did, however, receive a significant penalty and has obviously had the whole saga affect him in a deeply negative way.
It would be nice if we had clear cut evidence that could put him in an easy to define box, but like those horrible away jumpers Essendon used to wear, the whole saga is made up of shades of grey that means people tend just to pick what story suits their beliefs.
Essendon can continue putting their focus on the future with a win here, which would be a huge step towards making the finals.
Adelaide were dominant last week against Port but playing Etihad is not really their thing, and I can’t blame them.
This will be tough for the Bombers, but I think they can win this.
West Coast v Carlton (DS) 7.40pm
How exciting will Saturday night be when you’ve got this game to look forward to?
West Coast’s season of making their supporters feel bad could reach a peak if they lose this.
At home, this would have once been unthinkable, but the Eagles have set out this season to prove they can lose anywhere and against anyone.
After this game, West Coast face GWS and Adelaide, so if they want to play finals, they must win this and then at least one of those.
In some ways, I suspect a loss here would at least put Eagles fans out of their misery, and they’d save some money by not having to travel interstate for a final they’ll lose.
Carlton’s season has hit a slight problem, losing their last seven games.
Blues fans have lost interest, preferring to instead watch GWS’ NEAFL side to see who is the Blues are getting this off season.
I’m tipping the Eagles.
Melbourne v St Kilda (MCG) 1.10pm
Everything is on the line in this one. Both sides have flirted with competency this season but haven’t committed to it. It’s almost like they’re not allowed to.
Perhaps we should hold some sort of postal ballot to permit them to become fully fledged top AFL sides.
Mail may be too technologically sophisticated. Send me a messenger pigeon instead if you think these teams can take the next step.
Talk to supporters from either side, and they can both give you strong arguments about why their team will lose this game. Ask them for a reason they could win, and they just give you a distressed look.
Melbourne have probably been more consistent, but their recent form has been abysmal.
Their long-term form against St Kilda is also concerning.
The Saints though will be without Nick Riewoldt, a big out for them.
I’m going to tip the Demons, but it’s a guess and not a confident one.
Hawthorn v North Melbourne (UTS) 3.20pm
It’s the battle for Tasmania, so naturally, it’s a dead rubber, with neither of these sides finals bound.
Poor Tasmania, always treated badly by the AFL. There’s a lot of arguments for why Tasmania can’t support an AFL side, but Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast can’t either.
I guess the difference is that Western Sydney and the Gold Coast have rapid population growth.
Think of it like this, Tasmania is someone that currently goes to the gym. They can only go twice a week due to other commitments, but they go and enjoy it.
Western Sydney and the Gold Coast are more like me. They don’t go to the gym, but they have the potential to go seven days a week because they’ve got nothing else on.
Therefore, they have way more potential when it comes to going to the gym. Just look at the numbers, Tasmania, two days a week tops, me seven days a week.
Now, the one thing the AFL seems to have missed is that I hate going to the gym. Sure, I visited the local gym once, but that’s because from the outside it looks a bit like an ice cream shop.
That’s the problem with investing in potential when it comes to things that involve people, we rarely meet our potential.
Hawthorn to win this.
Port Adelaide v Collingwood (AO) 4.40pm
Are you sitting down?
Daniel Wells is injured.
I’m as surprised as you are.
Collingwood have been on a bit of a roll recently. Once they’d achieved their goal of not making finals, they relaxed and started winning.
The good news is there is talk that Buckley might be saved, so we thank all the AFL teams for agreeing to drop a few of these late games to the Pies to engineer a great outcome for everyone.
Port Adelaide turned in one of the worse performances of the season last week, and it will be interesting to see how they react.
Normally, the best way to react to something bad happening is to shrink from the world and tell yourself you’re no good and don’t deserve success or happiness. Unfortunately, while that’s a common approach, it’s not a particularly useful.
Port would be better off trying to win this one and get their season back on track. I think they’ll do this, but don’t win by too much, not until we’ve got Nathan’s signature on that extension.
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