Pete Roberts from Behind The Footy is sharing some of his great content with us for the 2021 AFL season. Pete spent fifteen years in AFL coaching boxes as an analyst. He now shares those insights with footy fans. Here’s his AFL Round 14 Preview.

🍻 Pub bets Watching a game and want an interest? We’ve thrown in the pub bet for that very reason… it might just be a smart way to play based on Pete’s excellent analysis!

Five games to go through in the last of the bye weeks. Wish we had Thursday night footy to look forward to, but the rescheduled West Coast v Richmond game means we have to wait until Round 15 for its return.

Only one game of genuine quality, unfortunately. 2nd v 3rd in front of a handful of people at GMHBA stadium on Friday night. Let’s hope it’s the last time we have to move games out of Melbourne, at least.

Confidence levels have returned after they were at an all-time low for the incredibly difficult Round 13 puzzle (where we were probably right in our prediction of a very messy round of football). Some of the overreactions to recent results gives us a nice opportunity to make a case for a few here.

Best Matchup
Geelong v Western Bulldogs

Best Underdog
Western Bulldogs, Carlton

Team Under Pressure
Gold Coast

Player To Watch
Jake Stringer – only two marks and a single goal against Richmond when they really needed him to fire. Faces an inferior defence in Hawthorn this weekend but will be critical to posting a high enough total for the Bombers to get over the line down in Tassie.

AFL Round 14: Geelong v Western Bulldogs

Games between two top four teams rarely go to script. The best approach is to take a good look at what we already know and try to pick the most likely scenario.

The Dogs need to be brave here. They have come unstuck twice against high-pressure teams who forced them into conceding ground with backwards handball before eventually turning it over. The Cats have posted some of their highest pressure figures against top eight teams, but they aren’t as manic as the likes of Richmond and Melbourne. With a lot less leg speed, it’s the one area of concern for Geelong.

If the Bulldogs can hold their nerve and keep some speed on the ball, they can definitely win this. Even a rock solid defence like Geelong will be tested if they don’t have as much time to set up. Look for the Dogs to try and change angles as much as possible and keep the ball away from the intercept mark threats of Stewart, Henry and Henderson.

The Dogs are leading the league in forward 50 marks for a reason, but their lowest totals have come up against some of the best defences. The Cats have conceded the fewest inside 50 marks for the season. Huge test for the Dogs forwards to somehow find a way.

Geelong will obviously look to exploit the Dogs’ vulnerabilities down back, which has been their achilles heel all year. Lynch and Riewoldt managed 11 marks between them when the Tigers ran over the top of the Bulldogs in Round 7. Fritsch, Weideman and McDonald combined for 10 against them in Round 11. What will the likes of Hawkins, Cameron, Rohan and Ratugolea be able to do if they get enough supply?

Through the middle, we are treated to the two best teams at clearance differential going head to head. The Dogs have a slight edge, but if Guthrie returns for Geelong that might even things out a little. The Martin/English combination surely has a distinct advantage over Ratugolea/Blicavs, so it will be interesting to see how the clearance battle plays out.

The easy thing to do is to simply pick Geelong on their home deck, where the Dogs have lost their last nine matches. But there’s enough doubt on Geelong’s ability to contain the Bulldogs midfielders and their speed of ball movement which makes this a lot tougher to predict. Can the Dogs hold their nerve and keep attacking? More importantly, can they hold up defensively against the best dual-forward combination in the game at the moment? Can’t wait to find out.

Pick Geelong by 6

🍻 Pub bet
Tri-bet at $3 with TopSport
(Either team by under 12.5 points)

AFL Round 14: Gold Coast v Port Adelaide

We know exactly where Port Adelaide sits in the pecking order right now. Below the top four sides, above most of the others. The four-win Suns shouldn’t pose much of a problem if they play anywhere near their best.

Port have comfortably disposed of all the teams outside the eight this season. Only three weeks ago they were tested by Fremantle for three quarters but ended up saluting by 46 points. The Dockers since lost some critical players but still took care of Gold Coast without much of an issue last weekend.

It’s a pretty clear formline to suggest that Port Adelaide won’t find the Suns too much of a test unless one of two things occur: Port take their foot off the gas and don’t apply themselves well enough mentally, or the Suns follow the usual blueprint for a genuine upset – a high-pressure first quarter where you manage to hit the scoreboard regularly, then find a way to continue on with it.

Gold Coast have been carried by Miller, Greenwood and a few other soldiers through the middle of the ground for far too long. They desperately need improvement from those around them, and much more assistance for Ben King up forward. The burden of being basically the sole focal point of their offence is taking its tool. Expecting him to bounce back after a tough week last weekend at least.

Psychologically it wouldn’t surprise for Port to come out a little flat after lifting themselves for a huge game at home last weekend. Yet even a drop in output from that game should still be enough to grab the four points here.

Pick Port Adelaide by 24

🍻 Pub bet
Port Adelaide -13.5 at $1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 14: North Melbourne v Brisbane

Potential trap game for the Lions if they don’t take this game seriously. We saw the Giants miss out on a perfect chance to squash the Roos’ confidence by not defending properly early on last week. Something similar from the Lions and they would have to play catch up the same way.

You would think Brisbane have done their homework over the bye – the Roos are notorious for starting fast but running out of steam. The Lions only have to match their intensity in the first quarter to set themselves up for a victory here.

Dayne Zorko might have outsmarted everyone when he orchestrated a one-game suspension against Melbourne – had a week off in the Queensland sunshine over the bye, avoided a trip to Tassie on Sunday and comes back fresh and ready to go for a huge clash against Geelong in Round 15. His absence here shouldn’t be felt too much given their other midfield weapons, so unless they take things too lightly it’s hard to see Brisbane dropping this one.

Pick Brisbane by 36

🍻 Pub bet
Qtr-by-qtr leader at $7.75 with TopSport
(NM-BL-BL-BL)

AFL Round 14: GWS v Carlton

A bit of rain around for this one, featuring two teams who haven’t set the world on fire defensively of late. Makes it a very tricky game to predict.

What do we make of GWS? They were crushed by the Lions prior to the bye, conceding 129 points. We gave them the excuse of being “up” for so long and in need of a rest. After a week off they gave up 94 points to North, who had scored above 80 just once this season.

They face a Carlton side that has had to absorb far more scrutiny than the Giants, yet only find themselves a win behind on the ladder. Is there really all that much between these two?

Consider the Blues’ last match was against West Coast in Sydney, where the expected score was a two-point win to Carlton. We know the Eagles aren’t nearly as formidable at home and they had a lot of key players missing, but that side then took care of Richmond in a finals-like contest the following week. It’s a reasonable form line to suggest Carlton are in with a chance against the Giants.

The season margins for Carlton are incredible – every single margin in their games has ben between 10 and 30 points, aside from their 45-point win over the Dockers in Round 3. The optimists will say they aren’t too far away – they’ve played seven of the top eight and been within five goals every single time. They finally come up against a team more at their kind of level here.

The Giants need to get back to rolling up the sleeves, the kind of mindset which turned their season around with a win over Sydney early on. If the game looks like last week’s effort where defence wasn’t valued at all on transition, then the Blues have a great opportunity to pinch it.

Really tempted to pick the Blues here, given they are a kicking team that could be suited by the slippery conditions. The Giants would have been stung by the embarrassment of only managing a draw against a one-win team away from home, so it’s probably no surprise they are favourite to bounce back. Just don’t think there should be as much between these two as it currently stands.

Pick GWS by 2

🍻 Pub bet
Carlton H2H at $2.34 with TopSport

AFL Round 14: Hawthorn v Essendon

Have to treat this one with caution after the spike in performance from Hawthorn last week. Did they really fix a lot of their defensive issues over a bye week? The win might have at least given them the confidence that the system works, so they are a slight chance to do something similar again down in Tassie.

Essendon come off a much-needed bye, hopefully ready to dial up their offence and get back to posting some big totals. Unless you believe Hawthorn have turned the corner defensively by using a one-game sample size, you just have to be with the Bombers, even in foreign territory (they haven’t played there in over a decade).

The Worpel suspension is offset by the Bombers losing Andy McGrath, but Essendon still look to have the edge through the middle with their running power against some pretty slow Hawks top-liners.

Happy to side with Essendon to be too good offensively for Hawthorn here.

Pick Essendon by 24

🍻 Pub bet
Essendon -10.5 at $1.90 with TopSport

Pete Roberts from Behind The Footy is sharing some of his great content with us for the 2021 AFL season. Pete spent fifteen years in AFL coaching boxes as an analyst. He now shares those insights with footy fans.

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