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2020 AFL SEASON PREVIEW
Lets start with a review and reminder of where it all finished in 2019
2019 Final Competition Table
2020 Predicted table
- West Coast
- Western Bulldogs
- North Melbourne
- Port Adelaide
- St Kilda
- Gold Coast
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Individual Team Previews
In alphabetical order ALF Statsman has run his eye and analysis over every team to provide his preview thoughts:
Adelaide – 16th
15th hardest draw with two games against Richmond, Essendon, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Melbourne
Gees, how far have Adelaide fallen since the 2017 Grand Final? After 12 wins in 2018 and 10 last season despite a favourable draw, the Crows have responded by clearing house. Coach Pyke has exited and was followed out the door by a lot of experience in Betts, Douglas, Jacobs, Jenkins, Otten, Greenwood and Ellis-Yolmen. That is a very significant turnover with only Keays and Frampton arriving. Clearly, the Crows are rebuilding via the draft and developing players on their roster and that is going to take time. Sloane and the Crouch brothers will do their thing but I’m expecting a long season for the Crows
How to bet Adelaide: They are long term over team in the day-time slot and have gone over the total match score line in 27 of their last 40 games in this time slot. Regardless of form consider backing them to cover the spread which they have done on each of the 13 occasions that they have played the Suns.
Brisbane – 5th
13th hardest draw with two games against Geelong, Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Gold Coast
Many tipped the Lions to rise up the ladder in 2019 but few expected that they would lead the league in scoring and finish the regular season in second place. They did this on the back of a very low injury rate and a 10-1 home record at the Gabbatoir along with career years from experienced key players like Neale, Cameron, Rich, Lyons, McCarthy and Robinson and the rapid progression of key young players like McLuggage, Andrews and Answerth. A reversion to the mean injury rate , the loss of backfield general Hodge and better scouting from rival teams will challenge the Lions this season. Throw in the fact that Brisbane’s actual wins equated to 14.5 Pythagorean wins and they shape as a candidate to revert to the mean with a more ‘average’ year of injuries. I expect a small regression in the regular season but a more seasoned team that is better equipped to pick up a win or two in the finals.
How to bet Brisbane: The Lions have gone over the total match score line in 34 of their last 46 games on the fast Gabba track with Fagan continually encouraging his men to chance their hand in attack.
Carlton – 14th
6th hardest draw with two games against Richmond, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, St Kilda and Sydney
The Blues continue their slow rebuild last year adding a few more wins to continue their rise up the ladder. Their spiritual leader Patrick Cripps is likely to have some quality support this season with Docherty and Kreuzer expected to return for the start of the season. Jack Martin had an unhappy end to his stint at Metricon Stadium but the former number four pick is capable of a big season in his new surroundings while being mentored by Eddie Betts who could potentially be as influential to the Blues as Luke Hodge was for the Lions. I expect another slight improvement on last year that ultimately falls short of the top eight.
How to bet Carlton: The Blues have been a Jekyll and Hyde team for five seasons now, covering the line in 27 of their last 32 day/twilight matches at the MCG but failing to cover the line in 20 of their last 32 night matches.
Collingwood – 7th
11th hardest draw with two games against Richmond, Brisbane, West Coast, Essendon and Melbourne
The Pies failed to improve on their runner-up position in 2018, regressing slightly in 2019. They now lose the experience of Wells to retirement and likely lose Beams for the season as well. However, the loss of these injury prone stars may actually be a blessing in disguise. The Pies do have enough depth in their midfield and enough quality in their list to cover these losses. Their midfield will again be a formidable proposition for most teams. Their 15 wins last year was slightly flattering with their percentage equating to 14.4 Pythagorean wins. Question marks remain over Buckley’s clipboard prowess while the Pies key forwards and backmen lack the quality boasted by Richmond and the West Coast. I’m expecting a slight regression in 2020 to the bottom of the eight.
How to bet Collingwood: Collingwood love playing at night and covering the line in 32 of their last 48 night games. They have also covered 23 of their last 33 as underdogs including 13 of 19 as MCG underdogs. Collingwood improved their record under the sun but have still failed to cover the line in 32 of their last 55 day games. Look for the right opportunities to bet these angles.
Essendon – 13th
4th hardest draw with two games against GWS, Collingwood, Adelaide, North Melbourne, Fremantle and Carlton
Essendon shape as a classic Pythagorean “fall” team. They had 12 wins but their percentage equated to 10 Pythagorean wins. Further, three teams drop out of the finals on average each year and you can make a case for the Dons being the worst of the finalists last season with a poor percentage of 95.4 More importantly, they went 5-2 in games decided by 10 points of fewer including a couple of lucky escapes. A reversion to the mean in 2020 will make it harder for the Dons to return to the playoffs.
How to bet Essendon: Essendon revel in playing at night covering the line in 42 of their last 61 night games. They are also prone to going under the total match score at the MCG – going under in 14 of their last 18 matches at the venue.
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Fremantle – 12th
18th hardest draw with two games against West Coast, Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, Melbourne and Gold Coast
Freo begin a rebuilding phase in 2020 with the curtains being drawn on the Ross Lyon era. John Longmuir takes the clipboard and has new additions like Acres and Aish to add to a squad that won 9 games in 2013. While serviceable role players, Freo needs more help for Fyfe if they are to challenge for the top eight. Freo has been gifted the easiest draw in the comp and has the services of Fyfe and for that reason I expect them to hold last season’s level and possibly jag 10-11 wins.
How to bet Fremantle: Freo have been an outstanding long term under bet at night, having gone under the total match score line in 36 of 44 night games since 2012 but with Lyon gone, it remains to be seen if this continues under Longmuir. Interestingly, Freo also have a poor long term record of backing up with six days or less between games having covered the line in just 15 of their last 42 games off a short backup.
Geelong – 4th
9th hardest draw with games against GWS, Brisbane, West Coast, Hawthorn and St Kilda
Geelong rode their formidable Kardinia Park home ground advantage to another minor premiership but there was always that nagging doubt that they lacked they lacked big game potency, particularly at the MCG. And so it proved, with Geelong helpless to stop eventual premiers Richmond reeling in a 21 point deficit in the Preliminary Final. They now have to contend with a big ‘out’ in Tim Kelly while the likes of Ablett, Selwood and Dangerfield are not getting any younger. A steep slide out of the eight would not surprise, but there is still enough quality in the roster, a long term winning culture, the Kardinia Park advantage and a fair draw that should see them cling to their top four spot for one more season.
How to bet Geelong: The Cats dominate at Kardinia Park and have covered the line in 26 of their last 33 games at the venue against all teams bar their bogey team – Sydney. Geelong struggle to run up cricket scores against lower ranked teams and have only covered the line in 17 of their last 47 games as a 30.5+ favourite. Worth noting that they are on an eight game losing streak after the midseason bye and and an eight game winning streak second up after the midseason bye!
Gold Coast 18th
3rd hardest draw with games against Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Sydney and Melbourne
The Suns jumped out of the blocks with three early wins thanks to a very soft early early draw. As expected, they were gritty and well coached by Dew in the first half of the season before their young legs failed to go the distance and they lost their last five games by an average of 74 points. They picked up Ellis and Greenwood in the off season to add some experience and some talent in the draft in Rowell and Anderson but they are coming from a long way back. They might pick up another win or two this season but another wooden spoon and plenty of ugly losses await.
How to bet the Suns: Take on the Suns at night as they have only covered 7 of their last 28 under lights. Under Dew – the Suns emerged as an unders team – going under the total match score line in 27 of 44 games, especially when fresh early in the season before reverting to an overs team in the last 6-8 games of the season when they run out of puff. There is an excellent chance history will repeat here.
GWS – 2nd
5th hardest draw with two games against Richmond, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Sydney
GWS surprised all and sundry with character building finals road wins over Brisbane and Collingwood to reach the Grand Final where they were badly exposed by a more seasoned Tigers outfit. The core of the squad remains stacked with first round draft picks. Let’s not forget the likes of Ward, Coniglio, Kelly and de Boer missed a significant number of games which the Giants were able to overcome. These players along with Taranto, Greene and Cameron are now entering the prime of their careers and if they can finally get a decent run with injuries I can see them finishing the regular season in the top two and winning two finals at home to return to the Grand Final for another crack at the flag.
How to bet GWS: GWS are a major under play under lights, going under the total match score line in 26 of their last 34 night games.
Hawthorn – 6th
2nd hardest draw with two games against Geelong, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Sydney
The Hawks only managed 11 wins in a year of transition last year but were competitive as indicated by their percentage equating to 12.8 Pythagorean wins. The Hawks only lost two games by more than four goals – to Brisbane and Richmond. They beat Geelong, GWS and West Coast late in season (latter two on the road) and Mitchell is expected to return from injury – a returning Brownlow medallist is a very big ‘in.’. In addition to his mind-boggling numbers at this best Mitchell makes those around him better – especially Jaeger O’Meara. Throw in the arrival of Jon Patton to provide a quality target in the forward 50 when fit and I fully expect the Hawks to return to the eight. However having the second hardest draw likely prevents them from breaking into the top four.
How to bet Hawthorn: Hawthorn went under the total match score line in 16 of 22 games last season and have gone under in 42 of their last 66 games and it is worth watching closely early in the season to see if this trend continues.
Melbourne – 9th
16th hardest draw with two games against Collingwood, Adelaide, Fremantle, St Kilda and Gold Coast
Melbourne were heavily criticised for their season from hell in 2019 but let’s be fair. Their injury toll was shocking and played a massive part in their big slide down the ladder. With the exception of a minor Max Gawn knee injury their roster is relatively healthy after the club invested in renowned fitness guru Darren Burgess. They will benefit from the third easiest draw in the competition which should assist a rise up the ladder. I still have some question marks about the overall quality of their midfield and their ability to move the ball and for that reason I have them just short of the eight.
How to bet Melbourne: The Dees have emerged as a sound betting proposition when travelling interstate covering the line in 16 of the last 22 such instances.
North Melbourne – 11th
8th hardest draw with two games against Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Hawthorn and Carlton
The Brad Scott era has ended with North showing promising early signs under new coach Rhyce Shaw winning five of his first six games before losing four out of five including an ugly loss to Geelong where they registered just one goal. They have a promising enough forward line headed by Ben Brown but the defence was the fifth worst in the league in terms of points allowed. Cunnington will do his thing again leading a workman like midfield. The biggest problem North has is they have finished between 6th and 10th for the better part of a decade and have been unable to acquire top shelf talent either through the draft or trades and for that reason i see them just outside the eight.
How to bet North Melbourne: North have a great long term record when despised underdogs, covering the line in 25 of their last 38 matches as a 15.5 to 30 point dog. They have also gone under the total match score line in 33 of their last 43 night games.
Port Adelaide – 15th
14th hardest draw with two games against West Coast, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Adelaide, Gold Coast
There is a sense of deja vu about Port. My season preview last season started “Port have hung around the 7-10 bracket on the table for four seasons now – never really threatening to crack the top four but possessing enough class to stay well clear of the bottom six. Where to now for year seven of the Ken Hinkley era?” Last year’s preview proved apt with Port coming home in 10th spot, having never really threatened to be a genuine contender. I see a small slide for Port this season.
How to bet Port Adelaide: Port are very good at controlling the tempo of games to suit them at the Adelaide Oval and have gone under the total match score line in 40 of their last 54 home games.
Richmond – 1st
7th hardest draw with two games against GWS, Collingwood, West Coast, Adelaide and Carlton
The Tigers are a very confident football team led by the starpower of Martin, Crotchin, Lynch and Riewoldt who were at the peak of their powers in September 2019. Geelong threw everything but the kitchen sink at them in the first half of the preliminary final to graft out a 21 point lead before the Tigers reeled it in with a sense of inevitability. They then went on to trounce GWS in the Grand Final and in doing so unveiled another quality player in Marlion Pickett. In the modern era of football, the champion teams of Brisbane, Hawthorn and Geelong were only able to stay ‘up’ for 4-5 years to claim their three premierships, so if Richmond are to join that pantheon of champion teams, they most likely need to claim a third premiership this season. They were offered the 7th hardest draw by the AFL while their main rival West Coast were given the hardest draw so the Tigers have every chance. Interestingly, Richmond’s 16 regular season wins and so-so percentage equated to just 13.6 Pythagorean wins. However there is a significant caveat in that their injury ravaged team started 7-6 then went 12-0 as players returned to the fold. I’m happy to bet against Pythagorean in this instance.
How to bet Richmond: The Tigers have enjoyed a sustained period of dominance at the MCG and although they failed to cover a few games at the venue last last season they have still covered 29 of their last 43 there.
St Kilda – 17th
10th hardest draw with two games against Geelong, Adelaide, Fremantle, Carlton and Melbourne
The promise the Saints showed in 2016-17 is now long forgotten following nightmare 2018 and 2019 seasons that culminated in the departure of Coach Richardson. Brett Ratten arrives with a solid resume of delivering at least 10 wins a season at Carlton and spending several years as assistant to Alister Clarkson. Ratten has cleared out Steven, Newnes, Bruce, Acres, Longer and McCartin. Hill and Jones arrived to inject some speed into the line up while Paddy Ryder likely still has a few handy years left in him. When you consider their 9 wins equated to 7.4 Pythagorean wins, Ratten has a big task at hand. – Saints won four games by less than a goal last year – two against the diabolical Suns, with just two of their nine wins against finals sides – one of them a poor Essendon. Saints lost 7 games by 30 points or more and only kicked 11 goals four times all year. I don’t see them improving on last year’s result.
How to bet St Kilda: Away from Etihad and the MCG the Saints have covered the line in just 11 of their last 39 games interstate.
Sydney – 10th
17th hardest draw with two games against GWS, Essendon, Hawthorn, Carlton and Gold Coast
Many tipsters are predicting a big slide and even a potential wooden spoon for the Swans. I’m not one of them. There are still touches of classes sprinkled throughout the Swans roster headlined by Franklin, Papley, Heeney and Parker. The Swans have a long term winning culture and a history of successfully developing talent and recruits from within which will benefit the likes of top ten draft picks Lachie Ash and Tom Green along with recruit, Sam Gray. Despite criticism, Longmire’s game plan does keep them competitive. The Swans finished 2019 with 8.5 wins, however their percentage equated to 10.5 Pythagorean wins. The Swans went 2-4 in games decided by less than 10 points. They only had two losses by five goals or more – both against strong opposition and were competitive with Geelong, Brisbane and Richmond on the road. With the second easiest draw, I’m expecting a cheeky challenge for the top eight that falls just short.
How to bet Sydney: The Swans play their best footy in the daytime covering 39 of their last 60 day games. They have also gone under in 16 of their last 21 SCG night games.
West Coast – 3rd
Hardest draw with two games against Richmond, Geelong, Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Fremantle
I was very bullish on the Eagles premiership chances once the acquisition of Tim Kelly was confirmed. I see him as a great fit for a roster that has star power all over the park in Gaff, Shuey, Kennedy, Darling, Hurn, McGovern and Natnui. The Eagles are well coached and Optus Stadium offers them not only a formidable home ground advantage but also the opportunity to hone a premiership winning game plan at a venue that has the same dimensions as the MCG. However, the Eagles have been handed the hardest draw which I fear will cost them the opportunity to take the direct route to the Grand Final via two home finals win at Optus Stadium. If the Eagles can overcome their draw to claim their second flat in three years, they will be very worthy winners.
How to bet the West Coast: The Eagles have gone under the total match score line in 36 of their last 53 night games. They have also gone over the total match score line in eight of their last nine home openers when the track is typically dry and fast and players still lack match fitness to run the game out.
Western Bulldogs – 8th
12th hardest draw with two games against GWS, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Carlton
After possibly the longest premiership hangover in modern history, the Dogs finally put some good football together in the second half of 2016. They won seven of their last nine regular season games and pushed the Lions most of the way in a road loss at the Gabba before falling to eventual Grand Finalists GWS in the Elimination Final. They are spearheaded by a worthy Brownlow favourite in the Bont who is ably supported by a quality on ball brigade of Hunter, McRae and Dunkley. They have a sound and improving defence that gave up 84 points per game including allowing just two 100 point games in the last 11 games of the season. There are still some question marks up forward but overall there is a lot to be positive about and for that reason I see them continuing the improvement curve to return to the bottom of the top eight.
How to bet the Western Bulldogs: The Dogs have a terrible cover record when favourites at Marvel Stadium covering just 3 of their 19 games as favourites at the venue. They have also gone under in 30 of their last 44 games off a short six day break.
2020 Long Term Forecasts
Premiers – Richmond
Runners Up – GWS
Wooden Spoon – Gold Coast
AFL – Statsman
Having played and followed the game for some 31 years Statsman combines an in depth statistical analysis and hands on view of the AFL and now provides our subscribers with his AFL tips game previews and recommended afl sports betting tips.
Statsman has a strong sense of history and repeatedly quotes Spanish philosopher, George Santayana in saying ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He understands the markets and how to beat them; this is the key to winning long term. He has a keen eye for form, bias, faults and misconceptions within the market. Statsman beats the market because he has an edge – he analyses the stats, he doesn’t just use them, he looks for angles and opportunities that others don’t see and he doesn’t believe the hype.
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Example AFL Tips Weekly Content
2019 Round 10 – Richmond v Essendon
2019 Round 17 – Gold Coast v Adelaide
The Suns are staring down the barrel of some ugly losses in the run home and it doesn’t get any tougher than playing and Adelaide side that has won all 12 matches against the Suns by at least 28 points. Crows to win and cover.
Keen on the over here with the line being set based on the Suns efforts in the first half of the season. The Suns leaked points last start while the last five head to head clashes have all yielded 165 points or more.
Bet 2 units Gold Coast-Adelaide over 157.5 $1.90 Topsport
Result – Adelaide 151 Gold Coast 56 – Yes, this was the infamous game where the Crows coaching box was caught laughing during proceedings. Our subscribers were also laughing – all the way to the bank. We felt that the bookies had framed the total match score market with too much emphasis on the first two thirds of the season when the Suns were one of the top under plays in the competition. We put more weight on the Suns conceding 150 points the previous start and their young list starting to fatigue heading into the final third of the season and the over was never in doubt.
2019 Grand Final – Richmond v GWS
Grand final day is upon us with a great clash awaiting. Richmond arrive at the big day on a 11 game winning streak – which brings back memories of the 2001 Lions entering the Grand Final on a 15 game winning streak and then claiming their first flag. Richmond are at close to full strength – at home – and deserved favourites. GWS are battle hardened and will be ferocious at the contest and I can see the likes of Mumford and Greene crossing the line with their aggression.
The bookies have framed a very accurate market for this match so there are no big bets to be found for this match. Tigers have covered the line in 29 of their last 43 at the MCG. They have won all five of their clashes with GWS at the MCG with the last three wins by margins of 27-36-19 points. This includes a 94-63 victory in Round 17 this year – admittedly with Coniglio going down early for GWS and for these reasons – I want to be on the Tigers.
I’m also happy to take on interstate teams playing against Melbourne sides in the Grand Final. Since the Lions three peat of victories over Melbourne teams – interstate teams have won just two of seven grand finals against Melbourne teams familiar with the MCG – and one of these interstate winners (West Coast) plays at Optus Stadium – with identical dimensions to the MCG. I’m also happy to take on GWS. Yes – it was an inspiring preliminary final win but there is no question that Collingwood was very poor. GWS have only won 4 of 19 at the MCG and only covered 12 of their last 30 outside NSW/ACT. I expect a tight first half – Richmond to pull ahead in the premiership quarter and then kick home in the fourth and cover.
Giants have gone under in 34 of their last 50 away and I lean to the match going under to conclude what has been a very low scoring season
Bet 0.5 units Richmond -17.5 $1.93 Topsport
Result – Richmond 114 GWS 25 – Although only a small bet was recommended, the result was never in doubt with the Tigers winning comfortably and the match also going under.
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