I suppose after 19 rounds you'd hope to have a bead on teams' abilities. If that's the case then it's no great surprise that we saw only 3 pairs of swaps on the MARS Ratings ladder this week, with two of those pair swaps merely clarifying the relative ineptitude of the teams that will already be making other plans for September.
It's nice that St Kilda's MARS ranking is now closer to its competition ranking - a case either of the prescience or precociousness of MARS Ratings.
Speaking of prescience, I note all the concern this week about blowouts results and the growing disparity between the strong and the weak teams, a feature of this season's competition that the MARS Ratings hinted at some weeks ago. Currently this inequality is at its apex with the Ratings Point gulf between 4th and 14th up over 7 Ratings Points this week and now standing at 65.8 Ratings Points and, more alarmingly, the gap between 4th and 8th up 4 Ratings Points to 30.7. That means the Ratings Point gap between 4th and 8th is now greater than the gap between 4th and 14th that existed at the end of Round 9. Just the perfect time to be considering free agency.
Six teams are now clearly the momentum teams, each having accumulated over 4.5 Ratings Ponts across the last 5 rounds. Amongst them, Carlton, Geelong and the Saints stand out; they've tacked 9 or 10 Ratings Points onto their respective tallies across this 5-week period. The three other teams - Hawthorn, Collingwood and the Roos - have added between 4.6 and 7.0 Ratings Points each.
Two other teams - the Eagles and Swans - have made more modest gains in this period, adding 2.3 and 0.6 Ratings Points respectively.
The Dees, Tigers, Dogs and Dons have been the biggest losers across Rounds 16 to 20, each dropping between about 7 and 11.5 Ratings Points, three of them achieving this feat despite having sat out for one of the rounds.
Amongst the five other teams to shed Points - Port, Freo, Adelaide, the Lions and the Suns - four of them have also had the bye, a circumstance that, in hindsight, has probably served more to preserve their MARS Rating than to restrict it.
These rises and falls have led to multi-spot ladder movements for only two teams across these five rounds: St Kilda, who've risen from 7th to 5th, and the Dogs who've fallen from 6th to 8th.
Four other teams have moved up or down by just a single ladder position - the Lions and Richmond have traded 14th and 15th spots, and the Swans and Dogs have traded 6th and 7th.
Colley and Massey Ratings remain broadly consistent with MARS Ratings except for a handful of teams where the difference is greater than 2 ladder positions:
- The Lions, which MARS ranks 14th while Massey ranks them 15th and Colley 17th
- Essendon, which Colley ranks 7th, Massey 8th and MARS 11th
- The Dogs, which MARS rank 8th, Massey 10th and Colley 12th
All three Ratings Systems agree on the composition of the top 7 teams, though they disagree over the precise ordering. The seven teams are Collingwood, Geelong, Hawthorn, West Coast, Carlton, St Kilda and Sydney. The eighth team is the Dogs on MARS Ratings, and the Dons on Colley and Massey. Currently, for what it's worth, the TAB bookmaker has the Dons at $1.30 to make the Final 8 and the Dogs at $9.00.