The 2017 AFL Season finally returns with Round 1 beginning this Thursday night! It feels like I say this every year, but this opening round looks like the best in a long time. As usual you can expect AFL betting tips for every game of the season right here at Before You Bet, starting with my 2017 AFL Round 1 Preview & Betting Tips.
As with past years, I will be employing a unit system of betting which can be used as a basic gauge of my confidence (the more units the higher the confidence or the more 'value' at the odds) or can be used if you want to follow all my bets while implementing sports betting bankroll management.
Carlton Blues vs Richmond Tigers (Thursday, March 23rd at 7:20pm AESD)
It's hard to remember a time this 'traditional' season opener between the Blues and Tigers was a highly anticipated match outside of just being generally excited the footy is back. In saying that, I do think this clash will tell us a lot about both teams. Are the Blues in as dire straights as we think they could be? Will the Tigers surprise or disappoint us during the 2017 AFL season?
Carlton is often mocked for a list that features recycled players from the GWS bargain bin, but there is no doubt they are in a 're-building' stage and only time will tell if some of those decisions were good or bad. What we do know about Carlton is that they have some genuine young talent (Patrick Cripps the stand out) and that Coach Brendon Bolton is seemingly another high quality Alistair Clarkson apprentice. They will surprise a few teams this year, but ultimately I have them finishing with the wooden spoon, so clearly I don't rate them highly.
Richmond, meanwhile, have high hopes with the additions of Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia in the off-season. Those two players add some depth to a list that has a strong spine (Rance, Dusty, Riewoldt), but I still have some real queries about their lower tier players. It still doesn't feel like they have many players fighting for a spot in the team and that creates a ripple effect of laziness for those who have already secured their position. It will take a few weeks to see where the Tigers are really at - could they threaten for the eight? Or will it be another 9th through 13th type year?
The bookies have Richmond as 14-point favourites, which looks just about right to me. I'm, howver, quite interested in the Tigers by the margin. There will be times this season that Carlton get crushed by 10 goals, but it's just hard to see a proud club like the Blues not come out and give 100% for the first game of the season in front of 70,000+ and with the entire footy world gagging to have the game back on TV. The last eight times these two teams have met have been under 39.5 points and I think that trend continues as we kick off Round 1 of the 2017 AFL season.
Tip: Richmond by 1-39 points (Under 39.5) - $2.20 at UBET (2 units)
Collingwood Magpies vs Western Bulldogs (Friday, March 24th at 7:50pm AESD)
There was a time when the Western Bulldogs would be lucky to get one Friday night game in a season, let alone a massive clash against the Pies at the MCG during Round 1, but that's the beauty of being the reigning premiers. We know Collingwood loves the 'G on a Friday night and now we know the Dogs don't mind playing on the biggest stages. This one should be a cracking game.
The last time these two teams met was in Round 21 of last year with the Dogs winning by 3 points at Etihad. Their only match at the MCG in the last five years was in Round 10 of last season with the Pies getting it done by 21 points. The Bulldogs were still questioned about their ability outside of Etihad at that point, but ultimately proved they can win anywhere by the end of the season. The Dogs and Pies actually match-up quite well. I will be most interested to see what the Dogs do with their ruck setup after Tom Campbell was cleared to play earlier this week. I think he is bit underdone, so they will go with Tom Boyd doing most of the rucking and Travis Cloke relieving him at stages. If Brodie Grundy continues his form of last year, he will dominate this game. Fortunately for the Dogs they have played a lot of footy without a proper ruckman, so they should be able to adapt. One big unknown for the Dogs is the fact they are a few weeks behind the preparation of the rest of the comp due to their Grand Final win. That's probably why they looked so sloppy in the early JLT games.
This sort of match-up highlights the toughness of betting on the AFL in Round 1. Overall, I think the Dogs finish higher on the ladder than the Pies and think that if this game was in the middle of the season you can easily give the edge to the Dogs - especially with De Goey now also on the sidelines after his rediculous broken hand debacle. But there will be a ferociousness that comes out on the first Friday of the season and that's why I think this could be a very tight game (similar to how I think the Blues will be competitive on Thursday night). I actually lean slightly to the Pies at the line (+14.5), but think there is some value in the similar odds of either team to win by 1-24 points at Sportsbet. For those wanting to have a sweat on the best on ground medal for this game, Luke Dahlhaus has a great record against the Pies, being the best Dog or there abouts the last three meetings, while for the Pies backers, Treloar couldn't be contained the last time they played the Dogs. .
Tip: Either Team by Under 24.5 - $1.91 at Sportsbet ( 1 unit)
St Kilda Saints vs Melbourne Demons (Saturday, March 25th at 4:35pm AEDT)
The Saints taking on the Demons on Saturday afternoon will be the 'match of the Round 1' for many AFL fans. Most punters have one of these teams improving dramatically in 2017 and making it into the eight. The Demons are clearly the more fancied as they are shorter priced to make the finals, but I prefer the look of the Saints this year. That's why this game is such a juicy prospect and if these teams end up fighting for 8th spot on the ladder, Round 1 looms as one of those classic 'eight premiership point' games.
The reason I like the Saints to go further than the Demons is that we are banking on too much potential at the Demons. We know how good some of their 19-20 year olds are going to be, but they aren't consistently there yet. The Saints, meanwhile, look like a more rounded unit who can play more consistently. I might be proved wrong by the end of the year and maybe even by this Saturday afternoon if the Demons get a rousing victory. However, I don't think that will be the case and think the Saints look like the value of the round here. The Demons havent defeated the Saints since 2006 and have only one victory at Etihad in the last 25 trips there. I will be splitting my betting between the Saints head-to-head and at the margin and simply sitting back and watching what should be a great match. I'm most looking forward to seeing Hicky and Steven fighting it out with Gawn and Viney - in my opinion, the two best ruck/midfield combos in the comp right now.
Tip: St Kilda to win using Sportsbet Hd-Hd Boost - $1.85 ( 1 unit)
+ St Kilda by 1-39 Points (Under 39.5) - $2.50 at CrownBet (1 unit)
Sydney Swans vs Port Adelaide Power (Saturday, March 25th at 4:35pm AEDT)
The first game of Round 1 being played outside Melbourne is when the Power head to Sydney to take on the Swans at the SCG. It's a daunting start to the season for Port Adelaide as they try to take on last year's runner-ups at one of the toughest away games in AFL.
The Power know all too well how hard the Swans can be at the SCG, losing by 67 points in their lone meeting last season. All the Swans usual suspects dominated that game with JP Kennedy, Parker and Hannebery all having over 30 disposals. Tom Mitchell was arguably best on ground for the Swans, but of course they will be without him this season.
There is a reason the Swans are 25-point favourites and it's not just because it looks like the Power will once again struggle in 2017. The Swans won 10 of their 12 games at the SCG last season, including five by more than 50 points. While I don't think they will necessarily smash the Power by 10 goals plus, it's hard to see the visitors being competitive. The Swans have the midfield depth, the quality defenders (not that Charlie Dixon has proven himself as a big threat in the forward line yet) and of course the firing power with the likes of Lance Franklin roaming around. The line has moved a couple of points at some Australian bookmakers, so jump on while you can still get the 25.
Tip: Swans at the line (-25.5) - $1.91 at Sportsbet (1 unit)
Essendon Bombers vs Hawthorn Hawks (Saturday, March 25th at 7:25pm AEDT)
Another highly anticipated game of AFL Round 1 is when the Bombers return to the field with their formerly banned players for their first proper season clash. While they will no doubt be keen to run onto the MCG in front of a huge crowd, they surely won't be confident against a tough Hawthorn outfit.
This is simply one of those games that's very tough to get a read on. With all their best players at 100% (Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson et al) and with match experience with a consistent lineup ala 2015, you could give the Bombers every chance to win this game. But there are too many unanswered questions. I lean towards the Hawks to cover the line, but at just 11 points it does feel like a trap. The Bombers stars will be fresh and eagre, but with limited real match experience with the current lineup, how can you really think they are a chance against the Hawks? And I say that with an understanding that the Hawks aren't the team they once were. Should be firey contest and one that Essendon will desperately want to win, but I can't stay away from this small Hawks line.
Tip: Hawks at the line (-11.5) - $1.95 at Ladbrokes (0.5 units)
Gold Coast Suns vs Brisbane Lions (Saturday, March 25th at 7:05pm AEST)
It may not be the most anticipated match of Round 1, but the Lions taking on the Suns at Metricon is certainly one of the more interesting match-ups of the week.
The Suns are heavier favourites than I anticipated. They look like they are ready to finally play a little closer to our expectations in 2017, but ultimately are yet to prove themselves. Ablett being back is a huge plus and a few solid pickups in the off-season will help their depth. The biggest factor this season may be if Tom Lynch can take his game to another level. The Lions, meanwhile, look like they will improve on their efforts last year, but perhaps only enough to win 1-2 extra games. Having Dayne Beams back to his best and with him as a fresh captain will be a huge plus for the Lions. The Lions will gauge the success of this year on whether they can be competitive in games and it starts with a Q-clash in Round 1. This is another one I think can go either way, so I’m liking the look of the either team market at Sportsbet. I actually originally leaned to the Lions at the healthy line of 18 points, but the either by under 24 at better odds looks like a solid play as I can't see the Lions winning by 5 goals plus, but think they can easily keep it within three goals. Containing Lynch will be the key.
Tip: Either Team by Under 24.5 - $2.00 at Sportsbet (1 unit)
North Melbourne Kangaroos vs West Coast Eagles (Sunday, March 26th at 1:10pm AEDT)
Anyone who followed my AFL betting tips last year will know that I was a tough marker of North Melbourne. I may have predicted their downfall a little earlier than was the case, but ultimately I think everyone can now agree the Roos are going to struggle in 2017. Their season starts with a tough game aswell as they have to take on the Eagles in Round 1.
Interestingly, the Roos and Eagles haven't played in Melbourne during their last 10 clashes, with the Eagles winning eight in Perth and North winning the other two in Tasmania. The Eagles have actually played very little football at Etihad, with just one game last season which was a loss to the Bulldogs. I don't think that will be a huge disadvantage, however, and believe Etihad can suit their style. I like the Eagles to continue their high scoring ways of 2017 that saw them reach 100 on 10 occasions and more than 90 14 times. I just can't see North being able to stop their ball movement into the forward line and while they have some solid defenders, they won't be able to contain the Eagles for four quarters. While I have many questions around what kind of North Melbourne we will see this year, I don't have too many questions in regard to West Coast. Their ruck stocks are low, so Todd Goldstein will be crucial, but I can see the Eagles blowing this one out. You can still get 15 points at some betting sites, so jump on.
Tip: West Coast at the line (-15.5) - $1.90 at UBET (1 unit)
+ Consider West Coast Hd-Hd using TopBetta 1st Bet Special - $8 Odds! (Details Below)
Adelaide Crows vs GWS Giants (Sunday, March 26th at 2:50pm ACDT)
Another cracking Round 1 game on Sunday as the Giants head to Adelaide to take on the Crows. Both are expected to do well in 2017, but none more so than the Giants who most have as the team to beat.
If this game wasn't in Adelaide I think the Giants would be 3+ goal favourites. The Crows are stuggling to field their best team, with Sloane and Tex Walker both uncertain to play, while Paul Seedsman, Scott Thompson and Brad Crouch are all on the sidelines for the first couple of weeks of the season. The Giants have a couple of injuries themselves with Brett Deledio, Stephen Coniglio and Aiden Corr, but their depth is unbelievable, so they should be able to cover these losses quite easily. Without Sloane and Walker, I think the Giants are a certainty and even if they both play, I still like the Giants to win. Should be a competitive game in Adelaide where the Crows won 11 of 13 last year, but with their midfield woes this will be too tough. However, the Giants showed they don't struggle on the road, winning 7/10 last season. The Giants' ability to win the clearances and a potent attack featuring Jeremey Cameron, Jonathan Patton and Rory Lobb will prove too strong.
Tip: GWS Giants by 1-39 Points (Under 39.5) - $2.30 at Bet365 (1 unit)
Fremantle Dockers vs Geelong Cats (Sunday, March 26th at 4:40pm AWST)
Round 1 of the 2017 AFL season concludes with the Cats heading to Fremantle to take on the Dockers and for me, this is the toughest betting game of the round.
If anyone tells you they predicted the Dockers downfall last year they are likely flat-out lying. Fremantle's 2016 season was as close to tanking as you will see as they opted to play a younger side and keep some of their stars and veterans on the sidelines longer than their injuries perhaps warranted. That's behind us now, however, with Nat Fyfe the key return that will perhaps shape how their season plays out. I'm very keen to see how this game plays out, but it's just too hard to know what kind of Fremantle we will see. I also have some questions around Geelong's depth, so it's hard to think this will be an easy game on the road. Best to just sit this one out, take some notes and evaluate these two teams next week.
Tip: No Bet.
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