The footy is finally back! Now my 2016 AFL season preview and ladder prediction and my 2016 Brownlow Medal betting preview have been published I can focus on offering my AFL Round 1 betting tips - the first of my weekly AFL betting tips for the 2016 season. The Round kicks off this Thursday, March 24th!
Richmond Tigers vs Carlton Blues (Thursday, March 24 at 7:20pm AEDT)
What a season opener! Said no one ever. It's almost a shame the 2016 AFL season will kick off with the Tigers vs Blues, but I am hoping Carlton surprise me and are a little more competitive then everyone is giving them credit for. On a personal note, I think the AFL should create a blanket scheduling decision in the future that has a Grand Final rematch as the season opener every season. But no doubt the Blues and Tigers are two very popular teams and there could be worse ways to begin a season.
The Blues will be happy to face the Tigers without Brett Deledio who is reported to be out for just one week, while Reece Conca will also miss along with new recruit and former Blue Chris Yarran. Ivan Maric is also in doubt, which is a huge loss too. It's hard to get a gauge on how Carlton will perform in 2016. They have new coach Brendan Bolton at the helm and the skilled former Hawks assistant will no doubt have somewhat of an immediate impact. On the big stage at the MCG as the season opener, and with Richmond having some key outs, I think this could be a closer game than the line would suggest. Both Richmond and Carlton were two of the least physical teams of 2015 and I think Bolton will really be addressing this issue and bringing some Hawthorn toughness to his squad. They won't win that many games this year, but they could be far more competitive, starting with this game against Richmond.
Tip: Tigers by 1-39 points - $2.30 at CrownBet (1 unit)
Melbourne Demons vs GWS Giants (Saturday, March 26 at 1:40pm AEDT)
After their NAB Challenge results, the Demons will be feeling more confident than they have in five years. They defeated Port Adelaide, the Bulldogs and the Saints during the preseason and more importantly they looked like a completely different team. They attacked the footy and ran the ball better than we have seen in a long time. However, and it's a big however, the NAB Challenge isn't real football. I will start judging the real Melbourne this Saturday when they take on the Giants.
I have high hopes for GWS this year. I think they can push for a finals spot. Unfortunately, they will be without Jeremy Cameron for this game, while Cam McCarthy is of course serving a well publicised absence. How the Giants fill those holes will tell us a lot about their team. If you take a look at these lists, the Giants simply have a far more talented side. They have five players ranked in the AFL top 100 ratings, while the Demons have just two. I think the Giants list is far deeper too. Personally I lean towards the Giants winning in a close one, but I think with the Demons confidence, the Giants injuries and the game at the MCG, it's best to leave this one alone.
Tip: No Bet
Gold Coast Suns vs Essendon Bombers (Saturday, March 26 at 3:35pm AEDT)
I'm not sure how to bet on Essendon this early in the season. Despite their huge list woes, they didn't look too horrible during the NAB Challange - but then again, that maybe just confirms my opinions on just how silly the preseason competition is.
One big factor in regards to this game is that Gary Ablett is '100% confirmed' to play and we know just how much better the Suns are with this legend in the team. They will, however, be without Charlie Dixon in the forward line and will be relying on Tom Lynch. I'm not sure Lynch can carry the Suns' scoring power. Rodney Eade and the Suns seem to be bullish on ex-Bulldog Jarred Grant who is known to be handy with his delivery and in front of the goals. There is a strong part of me thinking it's safer to stay away from this game, but more than half of the Essendon list wouldn't be playing an AFL game this weekend if it wasn't for the circumstances. Once this squad gets 3-4 goals behind, I can't see them having the mental resilliance to bother reigning in the margin... Why would they? What have they got to play for? This might be one of the lowest lines a team will have to cover against Essendon this year, so going to get on the Suns to cover.
Tip: Gold Coast Suns at the line (-34.5) - $1.92 at CrownBet (0.5 units)
North Melbourne vs Adelaide Crows (Saturday, March 26 at 7:25pm AEDT)
The Crows can be a very a damaging team and they just so happened to lose Patrick Dangerfield over the off-season - one of the most damaging players in the comp. It's hard to tell what this will mean to the way they play. If they can keep just 80-90% of their hard-running, high-scoring style we saw in their finals win over the Bulldogs last season, then I think they can cause some team some headaches.
This game being at Etihad Stadium won't bother the Crows. Of all the interstate teams, the Crows seem to thrive there. They have scored over 100+ points on more than 50% occasions at the venue. This is where I think they will win this game. North Melbourne's defence is one of the worst of the mid-tier teams. The Crows defeated the Roos by 77 points in Round 1 last year at Adelaide Oval with Taylor Walker booting six goals, five. The Roos also have to contend with Josh Jenkins and Eddie Betts. I'm simply not sure they can stop them from kicking goals. North Melbourne's biggest weapon, meanwhile, is Todd Goldstein. He can tear apart just about any team, but Adelaide also have one of the top 3-4 ruckmen in the comp with Sam Jacobs. I think the Crows can win this game outright, but will take the generous head start the line affords us.
Tip: Adelaide at the line (+13.5) - $1.92 at Sportsbet (3 units official play)
Sydney Swans vs Collingwood Magpies (Saturday, March 26 at 7:25pm AEDT)
Collingwood head to the SCG this Saturday night on the back of one of the more impressive NAB Challenge campaigns. They will also have confidence knowing they face the Swans without Jarrad McVeigh, Sam Reid, Ben McGlynn and Gary Rohan. It has, however, been reported that Buddy Franklin is up and about, so the Pies will be hopeful they can get Ben Reid back in the side. Reid trained this week and will be very important if the Pies are going to secure a Round 1 victory.
The Pies have a great overall record against the Swans, but over the last six games, both teams have won three. The 'x-factor' in this game seems to be the SCG. The Swans have an incredible record on this ground winning 13 of the last 16 and no doubt the Pies will be somewhat intimidated. Reid needs to be on the field and Cloke needs to fire (after a terrible preseason) for Collingwood to have a chance and even then I think the Swans have a slight edge on the home pitch.
Tip: Sydney Swans by 1-39 points - $2.25 at Sportsbet (1.5 units)
Western Bulldogs vs Fremantle Dockers (Sunday, March 27 at 1:10pm AEDT)
One of the hardest games to pick this weekend is the Dockers v Bulldogs this Sunday. On face value the Dockers are the better side. They have the better list and have won the last three meetings against the Dogs. Generally, you would say the game being at Etihad is a big advantage for the Dogs, but the Dockers actually have a solid record at the stadium and those three wins against Bulldogs all came at Etihad.
The reason this game is so hard to pick is that the Dockers will be without suspended ruckman Aaron Sandilands, big-time recruit Harley Bennell and there are talks they might not bring Matthew Pavlich to Melbourne. Sandilands has a fantastic record against the Dogs, while Pavlich kicked five goals the last time the two teams met. That game saw the Dockers win by 13 points and that was with Sandilands having 50 hit outs to 13. The Dogs will see this as an opportunity to really start the season strongly. I think there is value in them to win by a small margin.
Tip: Western Bulldogs by 1-39 points - $2.50 at CrownBet (1 unit)
Port Adelaide vs St Kilda Saints (Sunday, March 27 at 2:50pm AEDT)
Much has already been said about Port Adelaide's needing to bounce back after a disappointing 2015. They have the chance to start off the 2016 season doing just that as they take on the Saints at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. I'm not quite as bullish on the Saints as some. They won 6 games last year and I think they will manage around 6-8 wins this year. They are still in the rebuild stage and their young players still don't have enough game time in their legs to get things done.
While the Power will be without Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries, they have ex-Sun Charlie Dixon starting in Round 1. He has a great opportunity this week to stamp his authority on the Port Adelaide forward line and I think he will do just that going up against the fourth worst team in the league in terms of goals conceded in 2015. The Saints also struggled with clearances last season and will need huge improvement against the Power who clear the ball very well. Jared Polec and Ollie Wines have reportedly had great preseasons after missing extended periods of 2015 and no doubt they will have an impact. With Dixon the big man and Robbie Gray and Chad Wingard kicking goals, I can see Port winning this game by 7-goals plus.
Tip: Port Adelaide at the line (-28.5) - $1.91 at William Hill (2 units)
West Coast Eagles vs Brisbane Lions (Sunday, March 27 at 4:40pm AEDT)
The almost 10-goal line for the Eagles v Lions game on Sunday just about says it all. Yes the Eagles had a patchy preseason and yes they have some key outs with Dom Sheed, Chris Masten and Sharrod Wellingham... But this game is at Domain Stadium and the Eagles are genuine premiership contenders. The Lions, meanwhile, will struggle for more than a handful of wins this year.
This game will come down to scoring prowess. The Eagles were ranked for inside 50s last year and ranked second for points scored per game at 102. The Lions, meanwhile, were second last in inside 50s and scored just 70 points per game. The Eagles will win this game easily, but I'm not sure about that big line. Will be staying away from any massive lines like this until we have more current season stats.
Tip: No Bet
Geelong Cats vs Hawthorn Hawks (Monday, March 28 at 3:20pm AEDT)
One of the great rivalries of the modern era perhaps doesn't pack the punch it once did, but that could change this year as the hyped up Cats are seemingly ready to storm back up the ladder.
The Hawks have won five of the last six against the Cats, with the last game playing out in Round 20 of last season and with the Hawks winning by 36 points. Since then the Hawks have lost a couple of key players, while the Cats have gained a few key players including the much publicised Patrick Dangerfield. It's hard to tell what kind of affect the Danger addition will have, but no doubt the Cats are primed to play better footy than last year. I don't think they will win and I think the line should be a little larger, so I'm going to go with the Hawks head-to-head using the sportsbet qtr leader special.
Tip: Hawks to win Hd-Hd using Sportsbet qtr lead special - $1.63 (2 units)
TAKE NOTE: Betting tips are subject to change in the lead up to the games depending on line-up changes, so check back in this article and follow me on twitter @AFLBYB. For more information regarding each match head to the official AFL website.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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