Pre-season prediction fever over which teams will qualify for the finals is running high with the first bounce of the AFL season getting closer by the day. Experienced predictors with followers to satisfy know that the secret of appearing to be a wise prognosticator lies in predicting every conceivable scenario, and then holding on to only the correct ones.
Last year’s top eight could again make the finals, but several teams that missed out last year can make it anyone’s guess after strong off-seasons improved their fortunes. The Power, GWS, Magpies and Cats all fit into that category.
Outsiders such as the Saints and the Demons could shock everyone in a fashion similar to what the Western Bulldogs pulled off last year.
Maintaining the high level of play required to reach the finals is often elusive. Geelong finished third in 2014, but plummeted to 10th last season by winning six fewer games. Teams that made the finals outside the top four represent the most likely candidates for failing to return the following season. After making the finals in 2014, Port Adelaide dropped four rungs from fifth to ninth. The Bombers dropped from seventh to 15th.
The 2016 season will likely offer some of the same surprises that make final eight predictions akin to educated guessing.