News, analysis, every club ranked, ladder, top eight, Round 2 preview, tips

Welcome back to the Power Rankings.

An exciting opening round full of match-ups between like types has given us quite a bit of insight into where everyone sits – with a handful of surprises.

What are the Power Rankings? This is our attempt to rank every AFL club from best to worst right now. 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’re playing this weekend.

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1. MELBOURNE (1-0, 136.6%)

Last week’s ranking: 1

It’s pretty easy to keep Melbourne at No.1 when they basically looked like their 2021 selves last Wednesday, easing past the Western Bulldogs in a Grand Final rematch that looked eerily similar to the original. There were times in the Round 1 win where we went “damn, should’ve tipped him for the Brownlow” with both Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver. With the Suns and Bombers next up, we suspect the Demons won’t be seriously tested again until their Round 4 trip to face Port Adelaide.

Next game: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium, Saturday night

2. GEELONG CATS (1-0, 191.7%)

Last week’s ranking: 5

It probably shouldn’t have been that much of a shock to have Geelong playing well in a home and away game – that’s kinda their whole deal? But given they started the last two seasons poorly, losing to the reigning wooden spooners to open 2021 and going 1-2 to begin 2020, it’s always nice to get off on the right foot. The Cats’ games against the Swans have been close for years, even when John Longmire’s side has been struggling, though Geelong really should have won their last five meetings (given how unlucky they were last year to lose by two points). All eyes will be on Buddy but that’ll just allow the evergreen Tom Hawkins – who has nearly kicked more goals past the age of 30 than Franklin, despite being 18 months younger – to fly under the radar a bit.

Next game: Sydney Swans at the SCG, Friday night

Cats make ‘courageous’ changes | 02:26

3. BRISBANE LIONS (1-0, 115.9%)

Last week’s ranking: 3

That was… about right? The Lions weren’t a heap better than we expected, nor a lot worse – they just got the job done at their Gabba fortress against a fellow top four contender. They’re a remarkable 27-1 in their last 28 home and away games at the Gabba, dating back to Easter Thursday 2019, even though the footy world doesn’t speak about their home ground advantage in the same way they do with the WA sides, or Richmond before last year. Great to see Cam Rayner getting some midfield time, too; we’re helping drive his bandwagon.

Next game: Essendon at Marvel Stadium, Saturday twilight

4. WESTERN BULLDOGS (0-1, 73.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 2

We don’t want to get too down on the Dogs; they certainly weren’t blown away by Melbourne, with their midfield clearly winning the clearance battle. It was a lack of mid-forward connection that hurt them – though most attacks struggle against the Demons defence. The absence of Josh Bruce hurts, since their inside-50 plays seemed to be either bombing it to Aaron Naughton or just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. We’re almost back to where we were this time last year, before Bruce roared into form, when everyone was talking about Mitch Wallis being their second marking option again. They need to sort something out, and if we know anything about Luke Beveridge, it’s that he’s happy to move the magnets to unexpected positions.

Next game: Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Thursday night

Couch asks ‘where’s Libba?’ | 00:47

5. SYDNEY SWANS (1-0, 121.7%)

Last week’s ranking: 6

First off – how good was that game?! The Sydney Derby is quickly becoming the best match-up in footy in terms of watchability. It helps that the Giants’ one-on-one defensive style allowed the Swans to produce some of their ball movement best. Still, given we’re a little bit iffy on the Giants this year, we’d like to see Sydney against another contender to get a full gauge on whether they’re top-four level or in the five-to-eight bracket again. And hey look, it’s Geelong! Perfect!

Next game: Geelong Cats at the SCG, Friday night

6. PORT ADELAIDE (0-1, 86.3%)

Last week’s ranking: 4

After two years of relative good fortune, the Power copped a bunch of bad luck all at once on Saturday night, losing a close game in the home and away season for the first time since 2019 while losing several key players to injuries. It’s not quite as bad as first feared but the absences of Aliir Aliir and Trent McKenzie will be felt. Port should rebound comfortably with games in Adelaide against the Hawks and Crows to come.

Next game: Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval, Saturday night

7. CARLTON (1-0, 132.9%)

Last week’s ranking: 10

On average, one team a year jumps up from the bottom 10 to the top four. You often know who it is pretty early; Melbourne and Sydney were pretty clearly in the contending mix after three or so rounds last year. And if you had to pick one team to do it right now… the Blues have ticked the first box; they certainly look likely to be better this year. But how much of that was their Sam Walsh-less midfield exploiting Richmond’s weakness once Dion Prestia went down? We’re absolutely thrilled to see their next game being against the Bulldogs. They’ve already played the Dogs pretty well for a few years and if that midfield gets on top of the Dogs’ well-regarded group, then we’re looking at a legitimate finals contender at Princes Park.

Next game: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, Thursday night

‘Unbelievable’ Cripps powering Carlton | 02:00

8. GWS GIANTS (0-1, 82.1%)

Last week’s ranking: 9

The Giants primarily move up a place in the rankings because Richmond and Essendon moved down past them, but they looked very solid against Sydney, particularly in the midfield with Tom Green a standout. It’s kinda what we expected from GWS; there’s talent all over the park but their lack of a system (particularly in defence) can be exploited, and if there’s a talent void, it’s up forward particularly with Toby Greene out. They get the Tigers at a fascinating time and if they can get on top in the middle, there’s no reason why the Giants can’t do exactly as Carlton did last Thursday night.

Next game: Richmond at the MCG, Sunday afternoon

9. RICHMOND (0-1, 75.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 7

It’s not uncommon for the Tigers to allow Carlton to come home strong in their traditional Round 1 meeting; it just usually means they win by five goals after being 10 goals up, or whatever. But Damien Hardwick’s side was completely blown away in the midfield late on Thursday night and the absence of Dion Prestia once he went down with another soft tissue injury was seriously felt. We saw what happened last year when they were relying on just a sore Trent Cotchin; they need to find the right personnel to at least draw even in the contests, allowing their strengths elsewhere to carry them.

Next game: GWS Giants at the MCG, Sunday afternoon

Riewoldt’s road to recovery shortened | 00:56

10. ESSENDON (0-1, 52.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 8

Yuck. Absolutely yuck. The Bombers’ defence was their big flaw last year but even the 2005 Swans wouldn’t have been able to stop the quality of entries Geelong was getting thanks to complete midfield dominance. And Essendon doesn’t really have any excuses for Saturday’s flop, given their available personnel. Hopefully for their chances this year, it was just a bad day, but with Brisbane and Melbourne to come over the next fortnight it looks as if the Dons will be starting this season in a hole.

Next game: Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium, Saturday twilight

King puts blowtorch on bungling Bombers | 02:27

11. FREMANTLE (1-0, 101.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 12

Fair to say that wasn’t the most impressive start to a season where the Dockers have realistic hopes of playing finals – though Geelong did alright after a poor Round 1 game against the Crows last year. Once they get Sean Darcy and Nat Fyfe back, Freo should be OK, but you’d still like to see a potential contender show a bit more dominance over a likely bottom four side, even away from home. Oh… and good grief are they EVER going to kick straight?

Next game: St Kilda at Optus Stadium, Sunday night

Match-winning spoil in Freo thriller! | 02:04

12. COLLINGWOOD (1-0, 120%)

Last week’s ranking: 14

Just like the Bullet Club, Collingwood is… fine. They were able to take advantage of a slightly understrength and wobbly St Kilda side for an impressive first-up win, and they should certainly be looking at a 3-1 start with Adelaide next and West Coast coming across the Nullarbor in Round 4. We’re going to withhold judgment on whether Craig McRae’s changes can turn this group back into a top-eight contender, but that’s not what this year is supposed to be about anyway. Anything above respectability in 2022 is just a bonus for the Magpies.

Next game: Adelaide Crows at the MCG, Saturday afternoon

13. ST KILDA (0-1, 83.3%)

Last week’s ranking: 11

Already coming into the season under pressure, the Saints heaped more on themselves with their loss to Collingwood. This was supposed to be a start that set them up for a top-eight charge; now they have an always-tricky trip west to face Fremantle, before winnable but tricky meetings with Richmond, Hawthorn and Gold Coast (all in Melbourne). If they’re not 3-2 they should be disappointed, especially since a three-week run of Port Adelaide-Melbourne-Geelong looms after that point.

Next game: Fremantle at Optus Stadium, Sunday night

Higgins commits ‘unforgivable’ error | 01:40

14. HAWTHORN (1-0, 134.5%)

Last week’s ranking: 15

Things got a little bit wobbly in the middle of Sunday’s game but the Hawks managed to exploit their clear advantages – especially once North’s Ben McKay went down – to get an important first-up win. And they should be beating the Kangaroos, given the talent that remains on their list compared to their opponents’. That game did nothing to dissuade us from our pre-season view that this should still be a difficult year for Sam Mitchell, even if there’ll be some brighter days than others.

Next game: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Saturday night

15. GOLD COAST SUNS (1-0, 133.8%)

Last week’s ranking: 16

The Suns weren’t going to get a better opportunity to beat West Coast in WA than that, and the margin should’ve been much bigger – based on Champion Data’s Expected Score metric, if Gold Coast had kicked for goal at an average level they would’ve won by 10 goals instead of five. Matt Rowell and Izak Rankine both looked like they’ve taken a step forward. We’re keen to see how close the Suns can get to the Demons – after all, they’re 4-0 in their last four Round 2s – and then games against Carlton and St Kilda will be very telling. Any chance they can be 3-1 heading into the Q-Clash?

Next game: Melbourne at Metricon Stadium, Saturday night

Dew not worried about Clarko | 02:03

16. ADELAIDE CROWS (0-1, 98.8%)

Last week’s ranking: 17

The Crows were agonisingly close to completing their second-half comeback and knocking off Fremantle. It was another sign that, at home at least, Adelaide should be no easybeat this season. Losing close games like that may stop the Crows from improving on their seven-win total from last year, but that’s OK if they show other signs of improvement along the way. Josh Rachele giving them some much-needed forward line X-factor is a clear tick.

Next game: Collingwood at the MCG, Saturday afternoon

17. WEST COAST EAGLES (0-1, 74.8%)

Last week’s ranking: 13

You would like to think, for West Coast’s sake, that Round 1 will be the low point of their season. With a few important reinforcements for their trip east this week, you’d expect them to prove too good for the reigning wooden spooners. Of course, the Eagles lost to North Melbourne last year. In Perth. So…

Next game: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, Sunday early

Darling on the comeback trail for Eagles | 00:25

18. NORTH MELBOURNE (0-1, 73.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 18

The Kangaroos had this weird problem on Sunday where they were both too tall (with three rucks) and not tall enough (unable to stop Mitch Lewis once Ben McKay went down). They’re still working things out, and that’s fine. They missed one of their great chances this year to record a win but more will come; we’re not worried about a repeat of last year’s 0-8 start. Not yet anyway.

Next game: West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium, Sunday early

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