A quick summation of the betting markets for the premiership of the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition goes something like this:
Richmond, and then the other seven.
We feel like kids waiting for Boxing Day when the calendar has just ticked over to December 1, but we will have to find a way to wait until the first Qualifying Final bounces on 6 September, when the reigning premiers take on the Hawthorn Hawks.
Everyone expects the Tigers to win that game, but it is not a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination.
The other three games in the first week of finals look like matches made in heaven for those who want to see the AFL competition at its best, with nothing giving any semblance of imbalance on the menu.
At a glance, it seems as though the West Coast Eagles have the most to gain. If they can handle the Collingwood Magpies at Optus Stadium, they will earn another home ground final in the Preliminary round.
Even if the Eagles lose to the Pies, finishing second on the home-and-away ladder affords them the luxury of another final at Optus, depending on what transpires in the game between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at MCG and the one featuring the two Sydney clubs.
As improbable as it may seem, given the histories of Hawthorn and Richmond, those two clubs have never before played finals against each other.
This year’s finals series almost seems as though it was scripted, such that even the most creative minds could not have foreseen at the beginning of the season.
Save the two clubs from NSW and the one from Western Australia, this year’s finals is Victorian through-and-through, which may be the fly in the ointment to some, especially supporters of the SA clubs, one of which tanked throughout the season and one that could not maintain momentum for the first 23 weeks.