2016 AFL Grand Final Preview: Swans v Bulldogs

It’s that time of year again. After another action packed September the season finale is now only a day away. This year will be the first since 2011 where Hawthorn wasn’t involved in the Grand Final, and so naturally there is a lot of excitement. The Western Bulldogs faithful are especially looking forward to Saturday, where they will be hoping to break a Premiership drought of 62 years. Their opponents the Sydney Swans will no doubt be just as hungry for the win, however, as has been more than noticeable in their demolition of Adelaide and Geelong in recent weeks.

These teams have lined up once already this year in a match that went down to the wire. The Swans were leading up to the final play, until Bulldogs gun defender Jason Johannisen kicked the winning goal after the siren from 45m out to steal a win. A similarly contested game of football is more than likely to unfold on Saturday, with both these teams known for their toughness and pressure.

Each team has their own unique gameplay style, with Sydney happy to withstand pressure inside their own defensive 50 before sling-shotting play quickly to the attacking end of the ground, which they have been able to do this year with great success. The Bulldogs on the other hand are known for their forward pressure, being able to contain opposition sides inside their defensive halves for long periods of the game. Just how well each team is able to execute their game plan on the day will go a long way in deciding who wins this game, and both coaches will no doubt be preparing their players to limit the opportunities of their opponents.


The graph above breaks down the Player Ratings of each team. Each player is assigned one of the above rating categories (Elite to D Grade) based on their calculated Player Rating. Sydney has a notable advantage over the Dogs with one extra Elite player and two extra A-grade players in their line-up. Given what we have seen of the Swans strength across the ground this year, this would come as no surprise. The Swans rating got a solid boost this week as well with the inclusion of gun rookie Callum Mills and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh.

Ultimately, while this looks to be a fiercely contested hit out, we rate the Swans as being slightly stronger than what the betting market suggests. Our final projection for this game is a three goal victory to the Swans, and as such, we see value in taking Sydney at the line.

Suggested bet: Sydney -10.5 @ $1.90