Ok, I'm a little over enthusiastic. If the Pies were playing like they were during the majority of the home and away season, yep I'd be right. But they aren't. Their form, whilst good enough, hasn't been that impressive. They got thumped by Geelong in round 24 in a game that didn't matter, except perhaps to their form and to Geelong's confidence. Then came West Coast, over here, and frankly the 20 point win flatters them. West Coast were right in it and were charging home getting to within 7 points before the Pies steadied and kicked it away. Then came the Hawks; what a wake up call that was! The Hawks came out with a gameplan to beat them and they almost managed it. Only the Pies fitness, aided by the week off, got them over the line with some vintage, if somewhat desperate footy in the last quarter. And boy did they celebrate. I wonder if that emotion is going to negatively impact them?
On the other side of the ledger the Cats pounded the Pies in round 24, put the Hawks away comfortably and then yawned their way through the Weagles.
Interestingly the form line (based on average margins in finals) show that since 2004 the 'form' finalist has won the Grand Final.
The Pies just aren't as sharp as they have been and the Cats are in their best form of the year.
Throw in the injury concerns with Jolly, no. 1 ruckman, and Reid, AA CHB versus Stevie J, a gifted, arguably out of form, half forward. Half forwards are replaceable (even if they don't have the talent of Johnson), the clear best ruckman and only viable (fit) CHB are not. Even if they play there must be some doubt about their effectiveness.
I'll even throw out the fact that the Pies have only lost 2 games this year, guess who beat them both times? The Cats. Yeah sure Pie supporters clinging to hope will say, 'we were robbed in the first game' (due to an umpiring error), and 'the last game didn't count', but last time I checked a win is a win, and they didn't get one. Oh interesting stat in both those games, Cats slaughtered the Pies in the inside 50 stakes.
So based on all that, unsurprisingly I'm tipping the Cats by a comfortable margin, let's say 38 points.
And just before the Pie supporters flood me with comments, I'm not saying the Pies can't win because they absolutely can, but they'll have to reverse their form and make sure they have 22 fit players playing damn well.