Welcome back to the Power Rankings.
We’re starting to get a sense of which teams are genuine contenders, and which ones have flaws that can be exploited. But thankfully, there’s time to fix them.
What are the Power Rankings? This is our attempt to rank every AFL club from best to worst. We take wins and losses into account, but also the quality of opposition faced and whether teams are likely to get healthier or improve going forward. It’s a little bit ‘who’s hot and who’s not’; part predictive, part analysis of what’s happened. If Team A is above Team B, we’d probably tip A to win if they were playing at a neutral venue this weekend.
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NEW FOX FOOTY PODCAST – The emerging AFL contenders… and those with flaws
Swans touching tribute to club legend | 01:43
1. COLLINGWOOD (3-0, 149.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 1
It wasn’t pretty, but it was another strong win against solid opposition for the Magpies, who along with Melbourne have created a gap between themselves and the rest of the would-be contenders. What impresses us most about Craig McRae’s men is an apparent lack of weaknesses. Last year it was the midfield, and struggles with contested footy – now they’re not going to utterly dominate in that stat every week, but right now they’re No.1 for contested possessions and No.18 for contested possessions against, which seems pretty good? Plus their defence continues to stand up, with newcomer Billy Frampton impressing against the Tigers. Brisbane at the Gabba is still a tricky test for anyone but it’s very hard to tip against Collingwood right now. So we won’t.
Next game: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, Thursday night
The Pies get creative in finding players | 01:42
2. MELBOURNE (2-1, 136.8%)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Funny how a player can be a cult hero in his first game – that speaks to how long Demons fans have been waiting to see Jacob van Rooyen. It was a reasonably hype-worthy debut for the young forward but more importantly he contributed to a more exciting looking and pacey Dees side who blitzed Sydney. Expected score showed they were lucky to win by 50 points, but it was a comfortable win whichever way you slice it, and once again we have to put Melbourne up near the tippy top of our rankings. A trip west to face the WAFL-ish Eagles, given all of their opponent’s injuries, should realistically be a cakewalk. The Dees are back.
Next game: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, Sunday twilight
3. SYDNEY SWANS (2-1, 134.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The Swans ran into a proper contender for the first time this year and were well beaten… right? Well, not so fast. Our old friend expected score shows Melbourne overperformed in front of the sticks by five goals – the final scoreline ‘should’ have been 105-88, not 134-84. We’re certainly not saying Sydney should’ve won, but they were playing a flag fancy at their home ground, so what ‘should’ve’ been a three-goal loss when the Swans aren’t in completely prime shape themselves isn’t exactly an embarrassment. They’re in fine shape, and for our money still look like a top four contender, given how many issues most of the other candidates have displayed.
Next game: Port Adelaide at the SCG, Saturday night
Curnow & McKay – too many roosters? | 01:38
4. CARLTON (2-0-1, 108.8%)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Giants game felt like the type the Blues would’ve lost over the last few seasons. It was a mature win – and while we’re obliged to point out two close wins means they’re arguably fortunate to be unbeaten through three rounds, the fact remains… they are unbeaten. And at some point, this all just becomes a numbers game. Carlton barely missed the eight last year, but now they’re unbeaten, and five of last year’s finalists have only won one game or fewer. They’re ahead of the pack. Keep winning the games they should and they’ll start to build a healthy buffer that ensures a September berth – it still feels like there’s a gap between the Blues and the absolute best teams, but they’re at least in the hunt with time to grow.
Next game: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, Friday twilight
Sam Docherty opens up on hospital visit | 02:30
5. RICHMOND (1-1-1, 109.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 5
On the plus side the Tigers have the ultra-rare and very aesthetically pleasing record of one win, one loss and one draw. (Well, not that rare. They were 1-1-1 in 2020, too.) On the negative side they probably won’t be 2-2-2. (Unless…?) Well, the real negative is how discombobulated they looked against the Magpies, even if their defence did hold up relatively well. Again, we have to draw a comparison between Brisbane and Richmond – as we’ve been doing since the pre-season – we simply didn’t expect the forward line to be an issue. But broadly speaking we’re not worried; after all the 14-point loss last Friday night was their biggest since Round 6 last year. They are nothing if not consistently competitive.
Next game: Western Bulldogs at the MCG, Saturday twilight
Short ruled out for Bulldogs clash | 01:10
6. ST KILDA (3-0, 150.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 9
You could fairly argue the Saints deserve to be even higher, because it’s kind of remarkable how good they’re looking considering their issues with personnel. Their defence is tremendous, Mason Wood has an All-Australian wing spot in his sights, and as Champion Data’s Daniel Hoyne explained on SEN’s Sportsday on Tuesday night, “their ability to move the ball from one end of the ground to the other is the best we’ve seen by any team since 2009”. The one caveat right now is the level of opposition – the Bulldogs and Dockers are on the board but weren’t overly impressive in doing so, and we still don’t think the Bombers are a likely finalist. In fact the Saints might’ve beaten three non-finalists thus far. But they’re likely to be 4-0 and very few teams miss the eight from that spot. Kinda crazy how unbeaten St Kilda vs unbeaten Collingwood could be the biggest game of Gather Round… and it’ll be the Sunday twilight game. (Exclusive to Fox Footy!)
Next game: Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night
‘Feel good story’ the rise of the Saints | 07:10
7. BRISBANE LIONS (1-2, 79.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 4
It’s getting a bit weird now. The Lions were supposed to be impossibly good offensively this year, adding Jack Gunston to an already talent-laden front six. Instead Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood have been poor, with some baffling running patterns that almost have the Lions playing an inverse forward line where the smalls are going for marks and the talls are crumbing. It’s not like the Bulldogs were great last week – Brisbane was just worse. They had just three groundball gets in their forward 50, their fewest on record. Look, we can understand if the defence doesn’t hold up because there are clear personnel issues at that end of the ground (Harris Andrews excepted). But if they’re not scoring then something is going badly wrong, whether it’s coaching, or player decision-making, or all of the above. Of course with how up-and-down the Lions are watch them beat Collingwood and look mighty doing it…
Next game: Collingwood at the Gabba, Thursday night
‘They look like 1st or 2nd year players’ | 03:25
8. GEELONG (0-3, 83%)
Last week’s ranking: 7
You never want to be the team that’s making us scroll back through the decades on AFL Tables. The stats are stark – the first 0-3 reigning premier since 1976, the first ever winless and last-placed reigning premier after three rounds, and the only 0-3 team in the league. There are problems all over the ground. The defence worries us the least – that feels like it’s about personnel, and disorganisation caused by the replacements. Time should help the forward line, with Tom Hawkins clearly still working his way into the season. As for the midfield? Well, what can you say other than ‘they need to play better’? We still think the Cats can play finals – remember, Sydney in 2017 were 0-6 before storming into the eight, and being favourites against Chris Scott’s men in a semi-final – but they’re running out of time to turn this all around.
Next game: Hawthorn at the MCG, Monday afternoon
Dangerfield denies Cats are ‘complacent’ | 02:18
9. PORT ADELAIDE (1-2, 85.2%)
Last week’s ranking: 8
We’re only two weeks past that ultra-impressive win over Brisbane yet it’s looking more and more like the outlier in Port’s season so far, rather than their expected level of performance. Once again a disappointing Showdown loss leaves them under intense pressure, both from the Adelaide media calling for Ken Hinkley’s head and on the ladder. With a Swans side desperate to bounce back from their own poor Round 3 performance up next, and then a Bulldogs team playing for its season after that, the Power are suddenly staring down a potential 1-4 start. We think the calls for Hinkley’s job are premature – really, if you think he should be sacked now, you had to have thought the same thing in the pre-season – but it’s an incredibly awkward position that can really only be solved by great success.
Next game: Sydney Swans at the SCG, Saturday night
Port legend calls for Hinkey’s ousting | 01:47
10. WESTERN BULLDOGS (1-2, 66.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 12
A season on life support got a jolt from a Jamarra-shaped defibrillator on Thursday night, although we’re still not sure how much of the win was about Brisbane being bad, as opposed to the Bulldogs being good. They were certainly better, but it’s a matter of how much better, and how close they were to what everyone thinks they can be given the talent on their list. We think they’ve still got quite a ways to go, and if they lose to the Tigers and Power (in a week’s time), they’ll be back under the pump. But still – they had to win, and they did. Credit to them.
Next game: Richmond at the MCG, Saturday twilight
Dal & Joey’s hilarious Lyon anecdote | 01:51
11. ESSENDON (2-1, 129.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 10
In the battle of the surprise packets with the Saints, the Bombers weren’t totally outclassed, but it’s clear they still have work to do if they’re actually going to challenge for the eight. The fact remains their team defence is flawed; they’re the easiest team to move the ball against in the AFL, and keep in mind two of their three games this season were against Gold Coast and Hawthorn, who aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts. They get another winnable one this weekend but the Round 5-10 stretch of Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong, Port Adelaide (away), Brisbane (away) and Richmond may expose Brad Scott’s men.
Next game: GWS Giants at Marvel Stadium, Sunday early
‘Congrats to a 2-time preseason premier’ | 01:14
12. FREMANTLE (1-2, 112.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Yes, the Dockers have gone down a spot despite recording their first win of the season. That’s what happens when you get to three-quarter-time of a Derby against an Eagles side without any fit players on the bench, that isn’t particularly good in the first place, and people are still going “yeah but West Coast can win this”. Freo’s ball movement was definitely faster and more impressive on Sunday, but that’s like saying an alive turtle is quicker than a dead one, and we’re going to need to see them do it more often to fully believe in this change. An away clash with the Crows is almost perfect – it’s a game the Dockers should absolutely win if they’re a top-eight contender. But right now, we don’t think they are one. Prove us wrong.
Next game: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval, Saturday early
‘I think this chip, chip game is crap’ | 01:42
13. GOLD COAST SUNS (1-2, 78.7%)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Just when we had given up on the Suns, they go and beat the premiers, because of course. Jack Lukosius certainly responded to the heavy criticism he copped off the back of the Essendon loss and the midfield became the latest to dominate a dour Cats group. We didn’t see anything that convinced us this is the year Gold Coast breaks through, but a win over St Kilda – who are probably in even better form than their ladder position suggests – would take us a big step towards believing in that possiblity.
Next game: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night
Crows ‘firepower’ to fuel resurgence? | 00:55
14. ADELAIDE CROWS (1-2, 94.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 15
We were keen to push the Crows a little bit higher this week after a very promising Showdown victory, which saw their more aggressive ball movement pay real dividends – but the whole ‘Gold Coast beat the premiers so they can’t exactly move down’ thing held sway. Still, it was hard not to be impressed with Matthew Nicks’ men who fully deserved the win (no after-the-siren goal shenanigans here). Special shoutout to Josh Rachele who so far this year grades elite in the mid-forward position – he and Izak Rankine are living up to the billing as impact players. Few clubs have a young combination like them and it can be a real weapon for Adelaide over the next few years.
Next game: Fremantle at Adelaide Oval, Saturday early
AFL defends controversial dissent rule | 00:38
15. GWS GIANTS (1-2, 95.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 14
The game against the Blues shouldn’t have been as close as it was – the 10-point margin was literally just 10 behinds – but those sorts of competitive performances, putting a scare or even upsetting a likely finalist, is exactly what we were hoping to see from the Giants this year. That’s not meant to be condescending or anything, it’s just the reality of where they’re at. There is an enormous gap between GWS as our 15th-ranked team and North Melbourne as our 16th-ranked team. (Also, that shouldn’t have been a free kick for dissent. Would’ve been nice if the AFL had actually said that.)
Next game: Essendon at Marvel Stadium, Sunday early
‘That’s normal, that is human behaviour’ | 02:50
16. NORTH MELBOURNE (2-1, 94.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 16
Losing the Clarko Cup was disappointing, for sure, but let’s not lose perspective of how far the Kangaroos have come this season in the process. They appeared to be caught on the hop by a major Hawthorn tactical shift – from incredibly daring to incredibly safe – and being down their two young gun midfielders obviously hurt them plenty. Fingers crossed they’re at least competitive in the Good Friday clash; we hate the yearly “should they take the game off them???” debate because it’s not like big Victorian clubs need any more advantages, but it’d sure help if the Roos would make it a game.
Next game: Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Friday twilight
Griffin Logue fails to beat his bump ban | 03:17
17. WEST COAST EAGLES (1-2, 90.2%)
Last week’s ranking: 17
The positives: they continue to look like a modern footy team, and by staying competitive with the Dockers even without a bench, they’ve ensured the pressure remains on their rivals. The negatives: at some point a few years ago someone at Eagles HQ must’ve angered the god of injuries and he continues to cruelly smite the club in an attempt at cosmic revenge.
Next game: Melbourne at Optus Stadium, Sunday twilight
Simpson laments horror injury toll | 01:23
18. HAWTHORN (1-2, 60.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 18
Credit to Sam Mitchell for outcoaching Alastair Clarkson in their first meeting, making a major tactical shift and slowing down the young Hawks’ ball movement. It both surprised the Kangaroos and worked well against them. Now they head into an apparent Harley Reid Cup against the Cats, with the possibility of an incredibly satisfying win to pour more pain over their arch-rivals. And hey – the Hawks won this game last year, and the Cats ended up winning the comp. If the Cats are bad now, the Hawks’ll clearly win it by a million! That’s just maths.
Next game: Geelong at the MCG, Monday afternoon