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Can anyone stop Hawthorn’s AFL dominance in 2016?

Club by club AFL betting predictions – 1st-6th

WE’RE at the pointy end of our three part AFL season preview, with the top six sides picked apart.

We’ve found value in the cellar dwellers and the mid-table hopefuls this week, now it’s time to focus on the teams at the top of the tree, chasing the greatest prize the AFL has to offer.

Here’s who we think will be around when the whips are cracking in 2016.

1st: Hawthorn Hawks

Last season: Premiers (third on ladder)

Premiership odds: $4.25 with

Top four: $1.50 with

Top eight: $1.07 with

2016 win line: Over 16 wins $2 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Jack Gunston $12 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Sam Mitchell $14 with

Rising Star favourite: James Sicily, Kieran Lovell, both $26 with

Our tip: Sam Mitchell for most disposals in 2016 $8.50 with, Hawthorn to be Premiers in 2016, $4.25 with

If any team can cope with the loss of their key forward, it’s the Hawks. You don’t win three straight premierships without loads of depth and a knee injury to Jarryd Roughead that will leave him on the injury list for at least the first half of the season will just mean Jack Gunston and Luke Breust will get even more silver service from that revolving door of gun midfielders the Hawks possess. There are plenty of kids available in James Sicily, Kieran Lovell and the developing Jonathan O’Rourke, who will get plenty of opportunities, but Mitchell, Cyril, and Hodgey will have this side firing when the whips are cracking. The premiership window is still open and four in a row would probably seal the deal for this team as the greatest of all time. Ball magnet Mitchell is always in the top five in the AFL for possessions and he will again be the man with the most leather for the Hawks in 2016.

2nd: Fremantle Dockers

Last season: Minor Premiers (top)

Premiership odds: $10 with

Top four: $1.95 with

Top eight: $1.33 with

2016 win line: Over 14 wins $1.80 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Michael Walters $41 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Nat Fyfe $6 with

Rising Star favourite: Lachie Weller $17 with

Our tip: Nat Fyfe to win the Brownlow Medal $6 with

You get the feeling the premiership window is really slamming shut for this side, which has had the misfortune of contending during one of the greatest runs by an AFL team in the competition’s history. The club’s greatest goalkicker, Matthew Pavlich, is going on, and it has recruited the troubled, but supremely talented Harley Bennell from Gold Coast, but a lot will fall on little forwards Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne to ensure they can kick close to a winning score. Key defender Luke McPharlin is gone, Michael Johnson is ageing and it’d be a surprise to see a team anchored by the much maligned Zac Dawson win a flag. But stranger things have happened. He has the return of Ablett to contend with, but reigning Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe has shown no ill effects of the broken leg suffered in last season’s preliminary final loss against Hawthorn and should be there when the whips are cracking in the count once again.

3rd: Port Adelaide Power

Last season: Ninth

Premiership odds: $13 with

Top four: $2.50 with

Top eight: $1.50 with

2016 win line: Over 14.5 wins $2.18 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Charlie Dixon $17 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Robbie Gray $26 with

Rising Star favourite: Riley Bonner $51 with

Our tip: Power to finish in the top four $2.50 with

Hopefully we haven’t been sucked in again, but the mob out at West Lakes looks the goods in 2016. While they have lost Paddy Ryder due to the remnants of the Essendon supplements saga, Port Adelaide has guns across every line and they are coming of age at the right time. It’s time for them to deliver. Robbie Gray is among the best players in the competition, they have a brilliant midfield bull in Ollie Wines and the x factor comes from the superb Chad Wingard. Matthew Lobbe looms as a sneaky Brownlow Medal chance, considering he will have to perform the Goldstein role for Port. Key forward Charlie Dixon is a huge inclusion for the Power, but his preseason has been ruined by surgery for a minor teat to cartilage in his left knee in training in January. He could be the final piece to the puzzle if he can get healthy and lead the side to a top four finish.

4th: West Coast Eagles

Last season: Grand Finalists (Second)

Premiership odds: $6 with

Top four: $1.70 with

Top eight: $1.20 with

2016 win line: Under 15.5 wins $2.05 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Josh Kennedy $4.25 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Matthew Priddis $8 with

Rising Star favourite: Tom Lamb $21 with

Our tip: Andrew Gaff for most kicks in the AFL in 2016 $6.50 with

Why does last season feel like some sort of flash in the pan for the Eagles? The Eagles, led by Brownlow Medallist Matthew Priddis, running machine Andrew Gaff and Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy were magnificent in 2015, but fell at the final hurdle against the Hawks in the grand final. Will those scars linger in 2016? It’s happened before and it wouldn’t surprise us if it happens again. Will still be unstoppable at home and will still beat up on the poor teams interstate, but the improvement from the likes of Geelong and Port will make things harder. Gaff kicks the ball almost every time he gets it and he gets plenty of it. A solid chance at the $6.50 quote for most kicks in the AFL.

5th: Geelong Cats

Last season: 10th

Premiership odds: $9 with

Top four: $1.95 with

Top eight: $1.33 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Tom Hawkins $12 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Patrick Dangerfield $10 with

Rising Star favourite: Jake Kolodjashnij $21 with

Our tip: Patrick Dangerfield to have eight or more 30 possession or more games $3.25 with

The biggest mover of the off season, the Cats have a war chest of recruits to throw out the AFL and are expected to return to the finals after a one season hiatus. Former Crows superstar Patrick Dangerfield is the prized possession, but the likes of former Carlton defender Lachie Henderson and Gold Coast ruckman Zac Smith and West Coast lock down midfielder Scott Selwood, brother of captain Joel, have added meat to the line up. The return of key forward Mitch Clark is also noteworthy, giving them a one-two big man punch with perennial Coleman Medal chance Tom Hawkins. Dangerfield has never had an out and out superstar like Joel Selwood next to him in the guts and that translates to some seriously bad news for the rest of the AFL. With Mark Blicavs, Mitch Duncan, Josh Caddy and Cam Guthrie running through their with that pair, Dangerfield should be collecting leather at will and it appears a fait accompli that he will bust out for 30 or more touches in eight or more games in 2016. He did it five times in 2015, but also had 29 disposals three times, 28 twice and 27 once. The new scenery should be enough to tip those type of games over 30.

6th: Western Bulldogs

Last season: Sixth

Premiership odds: $9 with

Top four: $5 with

Top eight: $1.85 with

Coleman Medal favourite: Jake Stringer $14 with

Brownlow Medal favourite: Marcus Bontempelli $34 with

Rising Star favourite: Toby McLean $17 with

Our tip: Western Bulldogs to make the top eight $1.85 with

Many are tipping the exhilarating young Bulldogs to slide this season, much like Port Adelaide did last year. But not us. The return of extraction machine Tom Liberatore is a massive boost and he has reportedly trained the house down. Veterans Bob Murphy, Matty Boyd, Liam Picken and Dale Morris will provide the stability, while the likes of Jakey ‘The Package’ Stringer and Luke Dahlhaus will provide the cream. This is a side with plenty of guys who could be superstars in the AFL and we would not be surprised if they shocked the AFL and finished in the top four. It probably won’t happen, but it is in the realm of possibility. One guy who could help with that is their multi million dollar big forward Tom Boyd. He hasn’t yet come close to fulfilling his potential and it seems ludicrous that the Dogs have invested so much money in him, and yet he is no guarantee to get a game ahead of ruckman cum forward Jack Redpath.

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