2024 FIXTURE ANALYSIS
As we all know, the AFL Fixturing is far from fair. I’m sure I covered this before, but my statistical Leviathan was developed to help me make sense of the inequities of the draw and try and remove some of the emotion from conversations by having some hard datatistical (I’m going to try and make that a new word for the dictionary this year) facts that a conversation could fall back on. I soon found though, that while conversations without emotions are convivial, they lack a certain substance that is required to be engaging. For example, a previous, emotion-charged conversation goes like this:
Footy Fan: “No wonder your team made the finals, just look at how many MCG games they get. It’s unfair.”
Me: “F. U Buddy! Your team gets way more advantage than my team. Look at all the handouts they get. In my book they’re just a bunch of cheats!”
Footy Fan: “You’re an idiot. It’s my shout.”
But things are different now that I have all of this data available to me:
Footy Fan: “No wonder your team made the finals, just look at how many MCG
games they get. It’s unfair.”
Me: “Well statistically, based on opponents played per ground, they have
a 6.9% chance of making the finals in any given year. Whereas your team, based on the same criteria
at their own ground have an 11.3% chance, all things being equal. This puts your team at significant
advantage. Here, I have drawn a graph
based on my regression analysis. And see
this multivariate analysis of covariance which shows the data has a very strong
Footy Fan: “You’re an idiot. You’d better get the next beer after that crap.”
I enjoy my conversations with people, but statistics just seem to empty my pocket more rapidly. Look, here is a chart of my pocket wealth over time…
Anyway, as February crawls along to the inevitable start to Round 0 (probably sponsored by one of those non-alcoholic beers, or Coke Zero) and we start thinking about footy, I thought I could crank up the ol’ statistical leviathan and feed it this years fixture and see what it has to tell me. I’ve never tried to use it as a ladder predictive tool before. I usually wait until I have all of a season’s data, put it in there, change my model to fit the outcome and then show everyone how good my model was as the past data clearly, accurately predicted the past. Predicting the Past…imagine the fortunes you could reap!
Let’s look at what this season has in store for 6 of the 18 teams (yep…I’m gonna drag this out for three weeks).
I must say
The vanquished from last year, have been
handed the toughest draw of all teams this year. But how tough is anything really when you
have the Gabbatoir to play at? For
Speaking of momentum,
Top of the pops last year which usually
results in being dealt the toughest draw, but the gods looked favourably upon
them gifting them the 8th hardest draw overall with a mixed bag at
the start of the season. They get a nice
soft run from the mid-season bye before facing the third toughest run into the
finals. Sometimes this is a good
match-hardening thing, sometimes it can blow you up. Certainly we know they have the cattle to go
all the way, but with the oldest list (thanks mostly to Pendlebury and
Sidebottom), going deep again could be difficult. The biggest bonus for Collingwood is not
having to face either of the
Much is advertised about the last time Essendon played in finals, let alone the last time they won one. Looking back through the record books and I don’t think they have won a final since Sumerians started writing. Having finished 11th last year, they get that doldrums kind of feel to their future. When you finish just out of the 8, you don’t get rewarded, but you don’t get punished either. You can’t draft your way out, nor trade your way out, the AFL doesn’t fixture you a solution. You only have two options…peptides (been tried before) or tank your way out. I think Samuel Taylor Coleridge put it best:
They groaned, they stirred, they all
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.
Their best chance to get moving is rounds 8 – 12. But it might be too late by then already, with a tough run of matches in rounds 3 – 7 which might have their ship dead in the water.
day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Again with the Coleridge!
Fremantle are always an enigma. A team, that after 2022 promised so much, but delivered so little in 2023, begs the question…what can they do in 2024? They do get a nice home ground advantage and the benefit for them is that they play some of the tougher teams at home this year so may be able to pinch a few of those and then consolidate their ladder position with some good wins against poorer opposition on the road. They will want to get some early wins on the board as a tough run from round 10 to 14 will define their season. They want to be better than 50:50 heading into that stretch. Watch out if they are within striking distance of the eight as a soft run from rounds 17 – 21 could put them in contention. But we should be cautious in our assessment. I’ve known a few Freo supporters in my life and the last thing a Freo supporter wants is hope.