Faced with the almost infinite array of possibilities for the new season, I will take a leaf from the book of Roy Masters and boldly punt on the ups and downs from the end of home and away rankings last year.
Swans - the quiet (and injury free)achievers, you have got the target painted on your backs this year and don't expect another dream run with injuries. Down four places.
Melbourne. Nothing much going on there and a waste of space in the finals last year and the year before. Same position this year. Hope White stays healthy.
Brisbane Lions. Still a force. Up three places.
Collingwood. Showed some class in patches and a lot of ticker despite a crippling injury list. Up seven places.
Geelong. Frustrated last year, should have done better. Down one place.
Adelaide. Everybody hates you. Down six places.
Western Bulldogs. Thrive on adversity and could have made a mark in the finals last year. Will be there this year, up two places.
Essendon. Could have done better last year with an ounce of luck, will improve five places.
West Coast. Too short in the forwards and can't travel. Down five places.
Hawthorn. Worried most teams last year but could not sustain pressure. Experience will make the difference, up six places.
St Kilda. On the cusp, did not perform to expectations and unlikely to do better this year. Down two places.
Carlton. Nowhere to go but up, strong recruiting will bring out the best in the old hands. A proud club with a lot to play for. Up eight places.
Richmond. Ready to show some tiger. If they can improve their conversion rate they will ruffle some feathers this year. Up four places.
Freemantle. Have trouble delivering under pressure. The extra year will make a difference for the young players. Up two places.
North Melbourne. Will be there again this year but some legs are wearing out. Down two places.
Port. Likely to be there again but unlikely to improve. No change.
The Roy Masters column that I had in mind was written when there were five teams in the rugby league finals. The end result of all the ups and downs that he predicted had every team in fifth place. So I have picked everyone to come in at seven or eight. Not likely, but I suppose two will be correct at the end of the day.
Getting real for a moment, West Coast and Saints could consider themselves hard done by last year, wrecked by injuries at the wrong end of the season. The Eagles missed two stars and carried one through the grand final on one leg. Adelaide looked the goods but played one bad quarter against the Eagles and then kicked a string of points when they bounced back. Geelong would have to wonder about the game that got away. So the top five is likely to remain intact. Melbourne and Norths will hang in but their lists are likely to be too short at the end of the season unless they enjoy a Swanies type of dream run with injuries. They may be vulnerable and Port will surely fall out of the eight. So there is one place up for grabs and possibly two or three. There will be fierce competition for those places and any side but Carlton could be there.