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Strength of Schedule Ranking: Who has the easiest and toughest teams left to play?


The fixture is one of the great question marks looming over the 2020 season, with the AFL quite literally taking it one week at a time.

Despite this, we know that every team will play each other once. We don’t know where these games will be played or when, but at the very least we know who each team still has left to play.

Because of this, we can work out who has the toughest fixture and who has the easiest fixture remaining – to an extent.

To do this, we have ranked all 18 teams from first to last based on a number of factors and attempting to judge every team holistically, rather than reacting to results week by week.

Using this ranking, we can work out who has the toughest fixture ahead in their remaining games.

The actual ladder can’t be used for this as it’s still in heavy fluctuation. One win separates second and 13th. If we used the actual ladder, Gold Coast would be rated higher than GWS and West Coast and that doesn’t feel like an accurate reflection of the season from a holistic viewpoint.

Our ranking:

  1. Port Adelaide
  2. Collingwood
  3. Brisbane
  4. GWS
  5. Geelong
  6. Richmond
  7. West Coast
  8. Essendon
  9. Western Bulldogs
  10. St Kilda
  11. Carlton
  12. Hawthorn
  13. Fremantle
  14. Melbourne
  15. Gold Coast
  16. North Melbourne
  17. Sydney
  18. Adelaide

For our strength of schedule, this means playing Port Adelaide is worth 18 points of difficulty (reverse of ladder), playing Adelaide is worth 1 point, St Kilda is 9 points and so on.

Those rankings could be argued for eternity, but we feel it’s a simple way to order the teams based on current form and overall expected form. West Coast and Fremantle have also received a slight bump up given we know they will have a long run of home games coming up.

Of course, in a year like 2020 these rankings may just be obsolete a week from now.

With that, here’s what we’ve learned based on the 11 (or 12) teams your side is yet to play:

Sydney has the toughest remaining schedule. They still must play Port Adelaide (18), Collingwood (17), Brisbane (16), GWS (15) and Geelong (14), while the lowest ranked team still on their schedule is Gold Coast (4). The Swans ended up with 119 difficulty points total (an average of 10.81 per game). Given their ever-growing injury list, this does not bode well for them.

North Melbourne (115 points at an average of 10.36) has the second toughest remaining schedule and is in a similar boat to Sydney.

Essendon comes in next with an average of 10.33. They have a total of 124 points, though they have an extra game in hand given they still must play the Dees. Regardless, the Bombers still have a tough road to finals.

Up the other end, Hawthorn has the easiest remaining fixture and it’s clear as to why. They were put through the ringer to start the season and have already played Collingwood, GWS, Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane.

The Hawks have a total of 86 difficulty points (an average of 7.82). They have been judged harshly this week, but smoother waters are ahead of them.

Similarly, GWS is only just behind Hawthorn at 87 points and 7.91 average. Collingwood is next easiest at 8.10.

Carlton will play Port Adelaide this weekend, taking 18 points off their remaining schedule and leaving them with one of the easiest remaining fixtures beyond that.

Strength of Schedule Remaining from Easiest to Toughest

  1. Hawthorn (86 – 7.82)
  2. GWS (87 – 7.91)
  3. Collingwood (89 – 8.10)
  4. Brisbane (97 – 8.81)
  5. Port Adelaide (99 – 9.00)
  6. Carlton (101 – 9.18)
  7. Geelong (102 – 9.27)
  8. St Kilda (105 – 9.55)
  9. Melbourne (115* – 9.58)
  10. Fremantle (106 – 9.64)
  11. Western Bulldogs (107 – 9.73)
  12. Richmond (110 – 10.00)
  13. Gold Coast (111 – 10.09)
  14. Adelaide (112 – 10.18)
  15. West Coast (113 – 10.27)
  16. Essendon (124* – 10.33)
  17. North Melbourne (114 – 10.36)
  18. Sydney (119 – 10.81)

*Essendon and Melbourne have an additional game to play, thus the need for the averages.

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