Season in 3 stages. The way to get into the finals

I would divide the season into 3 stages, not 2 ( ignore the bye ).
First 7 weeks : Build a base of wins
Second 7 weeks : Consolidate the base.
Third 7 weeks: Prepare for playing in the finals.

The first 7 .games are key to a great season. A team needs to be ahead of the ledger at the very least.
5 and 2 would be fantastic, 4 and 3 just OK, anything worse than that is just making it really hard in the consolidation period around the middle 3rd of the season.

These are our first 7 games in what is a hard draw .

I would pencil in wins ( defacto at home) against Geelong, Adelaide Fremantle , Collingwood so, 4 and 3 seems the most likely scenario. Of the rest, Brisbane at Marvel is the one chance we get to play a team away from home

So we are a chance to go 5 and 2, because I do not like our chances against Melbourne or the Bulldogs. So far 4 wins

Next 7 games. Here we are on the road in 4 of the 7 .

I am going to pencil in Hawthorn, Carlton St Kilda and West Coke.
So we are up to 8 wins.

Now we get to play more good sides and at this point we need to be beating sides above and around us to get to more than 12 wins.

I am pencilling in Gold Coasters, Collingwood , North and Richmond
So we are up to 12 games, probably the cutoff point for even getting into the 8

That means that we will need to beat some good sides that are notionally higher than us to get into the 8, like: Sydney, Brisbane, GWS, Port.

If we get to round 16 with 8 wins, the last 8 games will reveal to us whether we have grown enough to command a top six or top 4 spot.

But to me the first 7 games will set us up. We simply must hit the ground running and run rings around Geelong first up.

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I think 4-3 would be better than ok, especially given our next 7 games.

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I think Geelong round 1 will be a massive challenge.

I expect them to start the year fresh (and fall off a cliff by the end of the season). But then again, Geelong often defy expectations.

We will beat them in the midfield and with our pace but their forwardline will be a large task for our backline

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Interestingly, if you just go by 2021 ladder position the breakdown would be 3, 5 and 4 wins for 12. With double ups against Richmond and west coast in WA in the outside 8 group. Those could be tough matches.

We probably need to improve or some ahead of us go backwards to hit 12 wins, which may not ensure a top 8 finish anyway.

Yep I think the Handbaggers will be burning to make a round 1 statement after how they went out in the finals last year.

I think you’re being too harsh re the double headers vs Sydney & Richmond.
Both those sides have lost key depth players, and I reckon a split of 2 & 2 is much more likely.
3 from 4 would do nicely, with the bonus of wins against other potential top 8 sides.

It does mean that, in terms of your season scenario we need to come home with a wet sail, but that’s life if we expect to play finals with the draw being so lopsided these days.

The start to the season is really important because the self belief a young team has can soon evaporate.

OK, so we all know that even sides which are roughly equal can beat you and that’s no disgrace, but psychologically the team needs to believe in itself and its game plan…

Belief is always beating sides you should beat, and winning 50% of close games against the sides around you.

So, what you are saying is … win as many games as we can.

Same could be said about Essendons finals appearance, by all reports players are burning and want redemption.

I’m expecting a pretty good contest between both teams

Oh yeah 100%.

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we will roll Geelong by 6-7 goals

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I think so as well, they’ll win their share of games on their home ground but we’ll expose their ageing and slow side on the MCG.

Excellent analysis, I think one of the keys is to win the close games. Last year we didn’t do well at this, but if we can tip a couple our way instead of against us we will clock up a few more wins and be a bit higher on the ladder For example, beat GWS and syd in syd, win the close ones rather than losing.

I noticed in the training reports they were practicing to “win a GF”, and this mentality will hopefully help win a few close ones.