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Who Are the Favourites for the AFL Premiership?

The 2021 AFL season is in full swing, and gradually a group of Premiership contenders is beginning to establish itself. Most of the teams in this group were expected to be there, but we’re going to start our AFL Premiership predictions with a bit of a surprise packet. 

The newcomers

The Western Bulldogs have exceeded all expectations so far this year, winning their first five games of the season and looking very capable of matching it with the best. They had previously been unable to recapture their Premiership form from 2016, but in 2021 everything has begun to click. Few 2021 AFL season predictions picked them as likely challengers, but they have arguably the strongest midfield in the league and a host of dangerous forwards, and deserve to be taken seriously. 

The regulars

In contrast to the Bulldogs, the Eagles have been a contender for years, and 2021 appears to be no different. The 2018 Premiers have looked close to unbeatable in a couple of their games thus far, but perhaps the biggest tick in their favour is the fact that they have had such a large number of their top players missing numerous games through injury. When the likes of Yeo, Shuey and Hurn are all fit and firing they’ll be extremely hard to beat, and if the Grand Final was held in Perth they would be deserved Premiership favourites.

The Cats are another side who have been in the upper echelons of the AFL ladder for what feels like forever. Last year’s runners-up were busy during the off-season, recruiting star forward Jeremy Cameron and experienced mids Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith in what was an all-out attempt to win, and win now. They’ve looked scratchy to start the season, but Cameron is yet to play and with so much talent on the park, they’ll eventually get rolling and be hard to stop when they do. 

Port Adelaide was heartbreakingly close to beating the Tigers into the Grand Final last year, and they are a good chance to go one better this season. They have a raft of experienced stars balanced by plenty of prodigious young talent, and have consistently shown an ability to beat the best teams in the league. They rarely play poorly, particularly at home, and it’s tough to imagine them missing the top four.

The favourite

As well-placed as all of the above sides appear to be, however, the team they are undoubtedly all chasing is still Richmond. The Tigers flexed their muscles with a big win over St. Kilda in Round 5, but prior to that they’d hardly set the world on fire – not that they care. It seems every year there are question marks surrounding the team in the early stages, but invariably they pull it together when it matters most. Having won three of the past four flags and with arguably the greatest finals player of all time running amok in Dustin Martin, they deserve to be favourites until someone can topple them.

Who will win?

All of the aforementioned sides warrant plenty of respect, something backed up by the odds for the 2021 AFL Premiership. Each of them has played Premiership-level football early in the season, but only one of them has shown the ability to consistently win on the biggest stage in recent years. The Tigers dynasty will end at some point, but they’ve shown no signs of slowing down just yet, which is why they’re our tip for the 2021 AFL Premiership.