AFL Crystal Ball: See what our experts are predicting for the 2022 season

Our experts have made some huge calls about what the talking points of season 2022 will be, including Jordan De Goey on the move from Collingwood. Check out our full crystal ball.

What does 2022 have in store for Chris Scott and the Cats? Picture: Getty Images
What does 2022 have in store for Chris Scott and the Cats? Picture: Getty Images

The overwhelmingly popular crystal ball pick is the Demons to win back-to-back flags.

Ten of 17 experts are staying true to the red and the blue.

Also, nine experts expect the 2022 grand final to be a repeat of ‘21 between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, with five tipping a Dogs flag.

So, taking stock here, 15 of 17 pundits have plumped for one of last year’s grand finalists to take the cup.

The other two? Champion Data guru Daniel Hoyne picked Brisbane to win it.

But THE BIG CALL undoubtedly comes from Mick Malthouse, who has taken a deep look into the mythical Crystal Ball.

He’s on the Bombers to not only make the eight and play the Dees in the big one, but go all the way. And, yep, he’s one out.

The legendary coach understands “Dons for the flag” is a big shout, but points out that as good as Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs were in 2021, nothing in football stays the same for long.

“People forget that Melbourne came from 9th in 2020,” Malthouse said. “Essendon made the finals last season and will be close to complete this season.”

Mick Malthouse is predicting Essendon to win the premiership. Picture: Getty Images
Mick Malthouse is predicting Essendon to win the premiership. Picture: Getty Images

He likes the Bombers backline: “It’s established and getting better.”

The midfield is the equal of anyone: “Especially with young Sam Draper in the ruck. He’s like a big puppy dog growing into his skin.”

And, while not quite as bullish about the forward line, expects it to hold up: “Speed kills.”

Malthouse expects the Bombers to be a couple of goals better. “They are defending better, they’re steadier. And they can win with 13-14 goals rather than 15-16, which will get them right up into the top four.”

Scroll down to read our expert predictions for the 2022 season.

MARK ROBINSON

Bolter and slider: Carlton, Geelong

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Back-to-back Demons

Wooden Spoon: Collingwood

Brownlow: Clayton Oliver.

Hard watch: The Suns. Under the coaching spotlight from the get-go.

I’m confident … Sean Darcy will be in the All-Australian squad of 40.

Not confident … Charlie Curnow will find his best.

Short odds: Melbourne, Bulldogs to make top four.

Long odds: Saints and Carlton will make top eight.

Talent burst: Harry Jones to take giant strides.

Bold headliner: Grant Thomas challenges at teetering Saints

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Port Adelaide

Sydney

Brisbane Lions

Richmond

Essendon

GWS

DAVID KING

Bolter and slider: Richmond, Port Adelaide

GF match-up: Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions

Premier: Western Bulldogs

Wooden Spoon: Adelaide, if it is wise.

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli. One of only four to five players who can get 30+ votes.

Hard watch: Freo for past six years. When will it change?

I’m confident … The Brownlow will be won by a midfielder.

Not confident … In anything rules related that has been “tinkered with” … disaster looming.

Short odds: The head ain’t that sacrosanct. Michael Christian, Brad Scott?

Long odds: Josh Rachele wins goal of the year.

Talent burst: Is Jason Horne-Francis really a first-year player?

Bold headliner: Saints hierarchy spill mid-season as fans storm Linton St

TOP EIGHT

Brisbane Lions

Western Bulldogs

Melbourne

Richmond

Sydney

Essendon

Port Adelaide

Geelong

Marcus Bontempelli is a popular Brownlow pick. Picture: Michael Klein
Marcus Bontempelli is a popular Brownlow pick. Picture: Michael Klein

MICK MALTHOUSE

Bolter and slider: Carlton. Michael Voss will toughen up the new team. Port Adelaide. Its midfield is too slow and key forwards fail in the big games.

GF match-up: Western Bulldogs v Essendon

Premier: Essendon

Wooden spoon: North Melbourne

Brownlow: Sam Walsh (sorry, Bont, runner-up again).

Hard Watch: Man on the mark rule looks like junior football. It’s useless and amateur.

I’m confident … The final eight won’t be the same as in 2021. Who will make room for the replacements?

Not confident … The best teams will make the final eight, but instead the teams with the deepest senior lists to cover for Covid-affected players.

Short odds: Covid to disrupt the season.

Long odds: Richmond to win another premiership. Too reliant on too few — mainly Dusty.

Talent burst: Sam Draper will start dominating the ruck, giving his mids an armchair ride.

Bold headliner: McGowan hinders WA teams’ chances of making finals

TOP EIGHT

Western Bulldogs

Essendon

Melbourne

Brisbane Lions

Sydney

Carlton

Richmond

Geelong

JAY CLARK

Bolter and slider: Fremantle, GWS

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Western Bulldogs.

Wooden spoon: Hawthorn

Brownlow: Hugh McCluggage. Get on now at $81 before he explodes and his odds shrink like Ollie Wines.

Hard Watch: Geelong’s coaching box. New set-up, new zen. Not sure everyone was on same page in there last year.

I’m confident … Carlton will get its defensive game in order. David Teague’s departure was horribly handled, but change was necessary.

Not confident … Sydney will have a big crack at Darcy Moore, making Collingwood pay top dollar to keep the star.

Short odds: Bulldogs top four. A lock at $1.90.

Long odds: Hawthorn least wins, $8. Bumpy start for Mitch.

Talent burst: Oliver Henry. Catches it like his brother, Jack.

Bold headliner: Shown de door: Pies part ways with free agent De Goey

TOP EIGHT

Western Bulldogs

Melbourne

Brisbane Lions

Port Adelaide

Sydney

Geelong

Richmond

Fremantle

What will Jordan De Goey deliver for Collingwood in 2022? Picture: Getty Images
What will Jordan De Goey deliver for Collingwood in 2022? Picture: Getty Images

JON RALPH

Bolter and slider: Sydney, GWS

GF match-up: Melbourne v Port Adelaide

Premier: Melbourne

Wooden spoon: Adelaide. There is still pain to come.

Brownlow: Clayton Oliver.

Hard Watch: Love Gold Coast to have a season where the coach wasn’t under the pump.

I’m confident … The fans will eventually flock to the footy.

Not confident … The AFL actually wants to pony up the cash for a 19th side.

Short odds: Richmond is $1.44 for round 1 against Carlton. The Blues might win eventually, but not this year.

Long odds: Denver Grainger-Barass is $41 for the Rising Star. Should be closer to $20 with his intercept marking skills.

Talent burst: If Zac Reid and Kaine Baldwin can put together 15-game seasons, the Dons can erase their big-man deficiencies.

Bold headliner: Buddy the Great: Franklin signs new one-year deal

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Port Adelaide

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Geelong

Essendon

Sydney

Richmond

GLENN McFARLANE

Bolter and slider: Sydney, West Coast

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Melbourne. Ron Barassi to present the 2022 cup in front of a packed MCG.

Wooden spoon: Gold Coast. Sorry, Dewy!

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli. Time to double up on him.

Hard Watch: Not sure about Eagles. Time for a rebuild?

I’m confident … New one-year deal beckons for Buddy.

Not confident … Of seeing free-flowing, high-scoring footy.

Short odds: Melbourne and Bulldogs in top four multi.

Long odds: Dees flag into “The Bont” to win the Brownlow.

Talent burst: Nick Daicos. Do believe the hype!

Bold headliner: Tassie gains entry to AFL, Clarko to take reins in 2025

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Port Adelaide

Sydney

Richmond

Geelong

Essendon

Are the Eagles coming or going? Picture: Getty Images
Are the Eagles coming or going? Picture: Getty Images

MICK McGUANE

Bolter and slider: Richmond, GWS

GF match-up: Melbourne v Brisbane Lions

Premier: Melbourne

Wooden spoon: Gold Coast. Expectation v reality poles apart.

Brownlow: Clayton Oliver gets reward for his toughness and consistency.

Hard Watch: Craig McRae. Can he fix Collingwood’s scoring woes? Is he hard enough to make the hard calls?

I’m confident … More emphasis on attack at Hawthorn under new coach Sam Mitchell. But will he go too far?

Not confident … Carlton will justify the hype and expectation to make the eight.

Short odds: Demons fans will be emotionally charged and will fill the MCG to see the unfurling of the flag.

Long odds: Anyone but an onballer wins the Brownlow Medal. It’s become a farce.

Talent burst: Nick Daicos is skilful and competitive, the ideal combination to force the ageing Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom out of primary midfield roles.

Bold headliner: ‘Over-dew”: Suns sack Dew, Clarko on the menu

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Brisbane Lions

Port Adelaide

Sydney

Western Bulldogs

Geelong

Richmond

Essendon

SCOTT GULLAN

Bolter and slider: Collingwood, GWS

GF match-up: Western Bulldogs v Melbourne

Premier: Western Bulldogs

Wooden spoon: Hawthorn. Trying to sell your best players in the first week of a new job may come back to haunt Sammy.

Brownlow: Dustin Martin. When the Tigers are good, he wins everything. And the Tigers are going to be good again.

Hard Watch: GWS and Stephen Coniglio. Dumped as solo captain, now part of three-man leadership, which has fur on it. Is he still in best 22?

I’m confident … Jordan De Goey will win the Pies B&F by 35 votes and then ride off to Sydney on his Harley.

Not confident … that anyone will understand the intent issue around match review panel findings with high tackles. Will be a debacle.

Short odds: Carlton for top eight. Take the $2.85 right now.

Long odds: Jordan De Goey $51 for Brownlow. Hello.

Talent burst: Sam De Koning.

Bold headliner: AFL looks to Tiley: Sacked TA boss on league radar

TOP EIGHT

Western Bulldogs

Melbourne

Richmond

Port Adelaide

Geelong

Carlton

Fremantle

Brisbane Lions

Can Dustin Martin list Richmond back to the top of the ladder? Picture: Getty Images
Can Dustin Martin list Richmond back to the top of the ladder? Picture: Getty Images

SAM LANDSBERGER

Bolter and slider: North Melbourne, Geelong

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Western Bulldogs

Wooden spoon: Adelaide. Things still going wrong.

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli, will be best Bulldog yet.

Hard Watch: Hawthorn. Mitchell needs time and draft picks.

I’m confident … Telstra erects a new tower to handle calls placed to unrestricted free agent Alastair Clarkson.

Not confident … The MCG is filled four times in round 1.

Short odds: Jason Horne-Francis for the Rising Star.

Long odds: Patrick Cripps should not be $41 for Brownlow.

Talent burst: Ben Hobbs. Dons finds next Jobe Watson.

Bold headliner: Halo Jordan. De Goey born again as a Saint

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Richmond

Sydney

Fremantle

Port Adelaide

Carlton

LAUREN WOOD

Bolter and slider: North Melbourne, Geelong

GF match-up: Melbourne v Richmond

Premier: Melbourne

Wooden Spoon: Adelaide

Brownlow: Christian Petracca. The premiership was one thing but he has all the hallmarks of a Charlie winner.

Hard watch: Hawthorn. To say it was a messy end to the season was an understatement.

I’m confident … Nathan Buckley will be a great addition to the AFL media landscape. Can’t wait.

Not confident … That we can have a seamless season.

Short odds: Carlton at almost $3 for eight. Expect that to shorten fast.

Long odds: Josh Kelly at $51 for the Brownlow.

Talent burst: Darcy Fogarty. The Crows need to find their new man up forward and he should be the one.

Bold headliner: Buddy up: Franklin to go again in 2023 for one last time

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Brisbane Lions

Western Bulldogs

Richmond

Fremantle

Essendon

Port Adelaide

Carlton

Christian Petracca delivered on footy’s biggest stage. Picture: Michael Klein
Christian Petracca delivered on footy’s biggest stage. Picture: Michael Klein

MATT TURNER

Bolter and slider: Carlton, GWS

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Western Bulldogs

Wooden Spoon: Gold Coast. It seems inevitable that Stuart Dew will not be at the helm beyond this year.

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli

Hard watch: Hawthorn. Senior players’ trade value remains, with not enough early draft picks on the list.

I’m confident … Port’s Mitch Georgiades will have at least one mark of the year nomination.

Not confident … West Coast and Fremantle will be able to play all their games in Perth.

Short odds: Jason Horne-Francis for Rising Star, paying $5.

Long odds: Jack Macrae looks overs at $26 for Brownlow.

Talent burst: Josh Rachele. Adelaide has needed some forward-line pizzazz since Eddie Betts left.

Bold headliner: North lures Nathan Buckley out of coaching hiatus

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Geelong

Port Adelaide

Brisbane Lions

Richmond

Carlton

Sydney

DANIEL HOYNE

Bolter and slider: Richmond, GWS

GF match-up: Brisbane Lions v Melbourne

Premier: Brisbane Lions

Wooden Spoon: Gold Coast

Brownlow: Christian Petracca

Hard watch: The Suns. Lowest scoring team in 2022.

I’m confident … Tigers to bounce if injury free.

Not confident … where West Coast will finish.

Short odds: Melbourne and Brisbane Lions top four.

Long odds: More than two changes to last year’s top eight.

Talent burst: Fremantle’s Neil Erasmus to win the Rising Star award.

Bold headliner: It will be the highest scoring season in five years

TOP EIGHT

Brisbane Lions

Melbourne

Port Adelaide

Richmond

Western Bulldogs

Geelong

Sydney

St Kilda

It’s looking like another tough year for the Gold Cost Suns. Picture: Getty Images
It’s looking like another tough year for the Gold Cost Suns. Picture: Getty Images

REBECCA WILLIAMS

Bolter and slider: Collingwood, Geelong

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Premier: Melbourne Wooden Spoon Adelaide

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli

Hard watch: The weekly outs on team lists (Covid).

I’m confident … The Tigers’ early finish to season 2021 was an aberration and they’ll be back in the finals mix.

Not confident … The 2022 season progressing without Covid causing significant disruptions.

Short odds: The Demons to again feature heavily in the All-Australian line-up.

Long odds: The Hawks making a significant rebound in the first year of new coach Sam Mitchell’s tenure.

Talent burst: Collingwood father-son recruit Nick Daicos to make an instant impact at the Magpies.

Bold headliner: Clarko signs up for I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Richmond

Port Adelaide

Geelong

Sydney

Carlton

BEN HORNE

Bolter and slider: Sydney to lock in a top-four slot, Port Adelaide to slide big time.

GF match-up: Melbourne v Brisbane Lions

Premier: Melbourne

Wooden Spoon: Sam Mitchell’s Hawks to bottom out.

Brownlow: Clayton Oliver to upstage Marcus Bontempelli.

Hard watch: Teams trying to juggle playing lists in the wake of ongoing Covid outbreaks.

I’m confident … Buddy Franklin will nail his 1000th goal and go on to boot more than 50 for the year.

Not confident … GWS skipper Toby Greene can keep his nose clean for an entire season.

Short odds: Bobby Hill to create havoc in Giants forward line, despite requesting a trade last year.

Long odds: Sydney gets a crack at hosting the grand final.

Talent burst: Swans forward Logan McDonald hits his straps.

Bold headliner: Buddy hell: Swans superstar signs for another two years

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Sydney

Essendon

Richmond

GWS

Geelong

Can Toby Greene stay out of trouble in 2022? Picture: Getty Images
Can Toby Greene stay out of trouble in 2022? Picture: Getty Images

CHRIS CAVANAGH

Bolter and slider: Richmond, West Coast

GF match up: Melbourne v Port Adelaide

Premier: Melbourne

Wooden Spoon: North Melbourne

Brownlow: Christian Petracca

Hard watch: Gold Coast. Well overdue to rise to relevance.

I’m confident … Richmond will be back playing finals.

Not confident … Fremantle will be the September bolter some people think.

Short odds: Melbourne and Port Adelaide to finish top four.

Long odds: Sydney, Essendon and Richmond to finish top eight.

Talent burst: Nick Daicos. He was selected at No. 4, but in most drafts he would have been a clear No.1. Watch out.

Bold headliner: Brave Michael Hurley returns for farewell match

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Port Adelaide

Western Bulldogs

Brisbane Lions

Sydney

Richmond

Geelong

Essendon

NICK SMART

Bolter and slider: Sydney, Geelong

GF match-up: Melbourne v Sydney

Premier: Dees again, but this time in front of the collared shirts sitting on the MCC green seats.

Wooden Spoon: Hawthorn. A hard, but necessary, bottoming out first year for new coach Sam Mitchell.

Brownlow: Marcus Bontempelli. This is his year.

Hard watch: Nat Fyfe trying to carry Freo on his shoulders.

I’m confident … Carlton plays finals in 2022.

Not confident … Essendon plays finals in 2022.

Short odds: Melbourne to finish top four, if not top two.

Long odds: Tired Cats miss the eight after a horror year.

Talent burst: Nick Daicos. Most exciting start to an AFL career since Chris Judd 20 years ago.

Bold headliner: AFL get its man as Clarko takes charge at the Suns

TOP EIGHT

Western Bulldogs

Melbourne

Sydney

Brisbane Lions

Richmond

Port Adelaide

St Kilda

Carlton

Can the Dockers return to finals in 2022? Picture: Michael Klein
Can the Dockers return to finals in 2022? Picture: Michael Klein

SIMEON THOMAS-WILSON

Bolter and slider: Fremantle, GWS

GF match-up: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs, boring I know.

Premier: Melbourne. We’re in a Dee-Dynasty.

Wooden Spoon: Hawthorn, the team is bottoming out.

Brownlow: Clayton Oliver

Hard watch: The Suns. How are they in the league and Tasmania doesn’t have a team yet?

I’m confident … Sean Darcy is All-Australian starting ruck.

Not confident … Brett Ratten can get the Saints back to where he had them in 2020.

Short odds: Richmond returning to the top eight.

Long odds: Hawthorn for least wins, ahead of North Melbourne, Gold Coast and Adelaide.

Talent burst: Josh Rachele. Nick Daicos or Jason Horne‑Francis will be the Rising Star, but Rachele will have the highlights.

TOP EIGHT

Melbourne

Brisbane Lions

Western Bulldogs

Port Adelaide

Geelong

Richmond

Sydney

Fremantle

Originally published as AFL Crystal Ball: See what our experts are predicting for the 2022 season

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