Aussie Rules Football Odds and Picks: Fremantle Dockers vs. Essendon Bombers
Paul Kane, Getty Images. Pictured: Bailey Banfield
Aussie Rules Football Odds: Fremantle Dockers vs. Essendon Bombers
Spread: Essendon -15.5
Time: 11 p.m. ET
Good news to those of you in the US who have been staying up late or waking up early to try and catch any semblance of live sports, tonight’s four-game AFL slate includes at least one game that starts before midnight across the country. That game is also our first matchup without two Melbourne teams, with the Perth-based Fremantle Dockers traveling interstate to take on the Melbourne-based Essendon Bombers at 11:10 p.m. ET. The best news? It’s being televised on FS1.
Essendon opened as 15.5-point favorites, which is to be expected given that Essendon finished in 8th and made the Finals last season, while Fremantle finished in 13th and fired their head coach. That coach’s ultra-conservative style had made it almost a given that any game involving Fremantle would open with the lowest total, so it was quite the shock when their Round 1 total opened as…. second lowest.
Looking at recent history, it is harder to believe the total is not even lower. The average combined score in Dockers’ matches was an AFL-low 149.9 points in 2019. Despite low totals, the under cashed in both matchups between these two teams in 2019, with an average of 127.5 points. Considering the shortened quarters (quarters are 16 minutes to start this season instead of the regular 20 in anticipation of a condensed schedule), 146.5 seems generous.
The injury reports for both teams make a scoring onslaught seem even further fetched. Critical omissions from Essendon include Joe Daniher, Cale Hooker, and captain Dyson Heppell, a combined 466 games of experience.
Things are even worse for Fremantle with Stephen Hill, Jesse Hogan, and David Mundy out, meaning 605 games worth of veteran savvy will be sitting on the bench. Fremantle’s Round 1 team is the least experienced in the AFL by a wide margin.
Essendon have won the last three matchups between these two by an average of 22.7 points, but that doesn’t make the Bombers a gimme at -15.5. Despite making the Finals last season, they actually finished with a negative percentage, having allowed 82 more points than they scored over the 22 game campaign. They made a habit of close wins and blowout losses and were thoroughly demolished in their only postseason game.
Spreads in this 2-to-3 goal range can also be tricky to predict purely based on the scoring system. The difference between a 6-point goal and a 1-point behind can be a matter of inches, yet it is a huge swing on the scoreboard. Miss a few set shots and suddenly what could’ve been a blowout is a nail-biter. The saving grace for those taking favorites is that it benefits you to run up the score in AFL since the tiebreaker in the standings is scoring percentage.
While Essendon should win this home game against an inexperienced team traveling 2,000 miles to Marvel Stadium, if -225 moneyline odds aren’t your cup of tea, the under is the play. In our rapidly changing times, it is comforting to have some constants. See Fremantle, bet the under.
The Pick: Under 146.5