With the finals about to get underway, let’s face the facts: the powerhouse clubs of the past two decades like Hawthorn, Geelong and Brisbane would destroy anyone this season. It wouldn’t be a contest.
The 2021 finals series is about to be fought out by the weakest top eight in recent memory. None of the sides competing this year are complete well-oiled machines like we’ve seen other years.
The Western Bulldogs have had a weak backline all year. For the most part the midfield has protected this weakness, but the latter has begun to crack later in the season. The 2016 Bulldogs were a far superior unit to the current group from Whitten Oval.
Neither Melbourne or Geelong are four-quarter performers, as evidenced by their final round clash. Good teams don’t give their opponent a seven goal head start. Good teams also don’t squander seven goal leads.
The Brisbane Lions have been pretenders for three or four years now, having choked in multiple finals series. Last year was especially bad, given how few times they left Queensland due to Covid-19. They’ve shown nothing to suggest their spine is now any stronger. Hell, they lost to a badly out of form Richmond side that lost superstar Dustin Martin to injury during the game.
The Bombers have snuck in on the back of woeful second halves of the season by the likes of Richmond and West Coast. The Eagles in particular are short on excuses for missing the finals and simply seem very dysfunctional. All things being equal, they’re a vastly superior side to Essendon who possess some quality through the midfield but are inconsistent at almost every key position.
GWS are in the same boat, a middle of the road team that has only made the finals because better teams have had bad seasons. There are few match winners and little depth on the Giants list.
Port Adelaide and the Swans have both been inconsistent at times and lack quality across the park, often relying on too few to carry their sides. Depth is a concern for both.
Without exception every side in the top 8 has lost multiple games to lesser opponents throughout the year. They have all lapsed. None possess a true killer instinct.
The upside to all of this is because there are no truly great sides then the 2021 finals series could be a very exciting, closely fought premiership race. The matches are also likely to be scrappy and ugly, but they could quite often go right down to the wire.
However, whoever the eventual premier turns out to be is unlikely to be remembered as one of the great teams of recent years. If anything, their success might even be slightly tarnished by the lack of quality opposition.
But hey, when you’re hoisting the premiership cup, none of that is going to matter. Being the best of the worst is still the best place to finish.