The head-to-head prices and handicaps this week, a couple of games aside, hint at a round full of close finishes, with seven of the favourites priced in the $1.42 to $1.85 range and handicaps in those same seven games in the 2.5 to 9.5 points range.
That's been no deterrent at all to the Head-to-Head or Line Funds, which between them have settled on 13 wagers for the round, already putting almost 11% of the original Overall Portfolio on the plate before the Overs/Unders Fund has even sat down and looked at the menu.
The stand-out wagers are in Friday night's Essendon v Hawthorn game where the Head-to-Head Fund has seen fit to slap 2.5% on the Dons at an unlikely $17 price tag, and the Line Fund has thrown another 3.3% of its original capital on the Dons with almost 11 goals start.
All of the remaining wagers look very subdued compared to this pair and are on teams priced somewhere in the $1.42 to $2.30 range and giving at most 16.5 points, or receiving at most 8.5 points start.
In the Dons v Hawks game the difference between the best- and worst-possible outcomes translates into almost a 20c difference in the price of the Overall Portfolio. For the remaining games the differences are in the 2c to 4c range, largest in the St Kilda v Carlton game (4.2c) and smallest in the West Coast v Adelaide game (1.8c).
Should the Dons pull off the major upset on Friday night, the rest of the weekend will feel like a free swing at the bookmaker (as economically irrational as I know that feeling is).
TIPS AND PREDICTIONS
The narrowness of the expected victory margins in so many of the games has led to season-high levels of disagreement amongst the Head-to-Head Tipsters this week. The all-Tipster Disagreement Index is 31%, pushed higher by Home Sweet Home (48%), MoSSBODS_Marg (40%), ENS_Greedy_MoSS (34%), and C_Marg (34%) and even the Tipsters with the lowest Indexes - BKB and the two RSMP Tipsters - are still in disagreement with, on average, 22% of their colleagues.
That said, in two of the nine contests there is only one dissenting Tipster, and in two more we have unanimity of opinion about the favourite emerging victorious.
In three other games a quartet of Tipsters have rallied around the underdogs in Port Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, and St Kilda, and in the remaining two games a trio of Tipsters have done likewise for GWS and Collingwood.
Narrowness of favouritism has no bearing, of course, on the difficulty of margin prediction, so there's no reason to expect that disagreement levels will be especially high amongst the MoS Margin Predictors. And, as it turns out, they're not high at all, the all-Predictor average MAD of 4.7 points per Predictor per game the 6th-lowest of the season.
C_Marg this week has the highest MAD at 7.3 and is Predictor Most Extreme in five of the contests, while MoSSBODS_Marg has only the second-highest MAD of 6.9 and is Predictor Most Extreme in just three contests. Bookie_LPSO, which has been climbing the MoS Ladder in recent weeks, has the round's low MAD of 2.7 points per game. It's Predictor Most Extreme in exactly zero contests.
The games causing the highest levels of disagreement are the Dons v Hawks (9.3) and Dees v Pies (7.9) matchups where the range of forecast margins span 34- and 26-point ranges, respectively. In the Richmond v St Kilda game the range of forecasts is also large (28 points) but this is due solely to C_Marg's low estimate, which is based on the heavy discount it applies to the Tigers when they're playing at the MCG. There being only one aberrant forecast in that game, the MAD is actually quite low (3.8 points per Predictor).
Disagreement amongst the Head-to-Head Probability Predictors is slightly elevated this week at 4.6% points per Predictor per game, that figure the highest for a single round since Round 6 when it was 4.9% points per Predictor per game.
MoSSBODS_Prob (6.5%) and C-Prob (6.3%) are the only Predictors above that mean. Their assessments are particularly different from the three bookmaker-based Predictors' for Geelong (somewhat higher), St Kilda (significantly higher), Richmond (significantly lower for C_Prob), and Melbourne (significantly lower for MoSSBODS_Prob).
The Saints v Blues (9.5%) and the Dees v Pies (7.2%) games have the week's highest MADs, and the Dons v Hawks (1.6%) game the lowest. MoSSBODS_Prob, however, rates the Dons as 10% chances - let's hope it's right.
The Net Venue Effects for home teams this week range from GWS' slightly negative value in facing Sydney at the Showground to West Coast's assessed 5.6 Scoring Shot (SS) advantage in facing Adelaide at Subiaco, 3 SS of which come from the Travel Penalty imposed on the Crows.
In only one case, that of the Lions, does that Net Venue Effect change the team that MoSSBODS would otherwise be selecting to win, though it does make the projected victory margins more comfortable in a few games.
High-scoring game of the week is projected to be the Melbourne v Collingwood game where 188 points are expected, and low-scoring game of the week the Essendon v Hawthorn game where 156 points are expected. Across the nine games the average aggregate is predicted to be 171 points.
Only Hawthorn, West Coast and Richmond are expected to score more than 100 points this week, and Essendon, Port Adelaide, Carlton and Gold Coast fewer than 80.