Collingwood 8-3 2nd
The Pies have been sensational this year. Simple as that. Jolly and to a lesser extent Ball have so far been exactly what they were recruited for, missing pieces. Both have added class and grunt to the midfield and Jolly in particular has lifted a previously pedestrian ruck set up to being a good one. Let's not forget Swan and Pendlebury for talent and class in the middle and an excellent cast of improvers to support them. Their backline is one of the best. They not only defend well but rebound brilliantly, with runners all over the place. So that leads us to the forward line. When its on its magnificent. Its energetic, unpredicatable, dynamic and any other positive buzz word you want to through at it. When its not, its small, weak with poor key position prospects that don't contribute enough on the scoreboard or anywhere else. Without doubt its they biggest query on the team. However, more often than not they do get the goals and that is caused by the mids and defenders excelling at their job. You give any forward line enough supply and it will reap the rewards, and they have. 7 games from 11 they've scored 17 or more goals (including 3 with 20 plus) which is a fantastic effort! The disturbing part gets to two of there three losses where they were just shut down entirely. The Saints restricted them to 4 goals (17 points) and the Cats 6 goals (14 points). And I guess that illustrates the uncertainty of that forward line.
But wait, there's more pluses, and to me this is the big one. Malthouse has been building a team of like skilled/talented players. The theory being when you lose one you replace with another and don't lose much if any quality. And this season, due to a brilliant run with injury, he's been able to do just that. The Pies look to have excellent depth. If a player is injured, reported or out of form, he is easily replaced. That is a huge strength for a club. of course they have been blessed on the injury front, so perhaps their depth hasn't been tested, but they've had the luxury of being able to get games into younger players and continue their development.
So where will they end up? If Geelong stumbles, they could finish on top, but realistically they are a monty for top 4. 1st-4th.