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Collingwood (Last year 14 wins) – 13.0 wins – Over/Under $1.88
Looking back: Collingwood, like so many, had high hopes for 2013 and after a 14-8 regular season they were booted out of the finals by Port Adelaide. A disappointing end to a season that looked like it could build after wins against the Cats in Round 8 and in Sydney in Round 20.
What went wrong: Off-field issues surrounded the Pies and the rat pack were usually at the centre of it. Harry O’Brien (Heritier Lumumba) missed a couple of games due to what was believed to be a personal rift with Buckley. The season just had too many speed humps to straighten up before September and the Pies were bundled out.
Toovey was out for the season with an ACL, Beams with soft tissue concerns and inconsistent seasons from Fasolo and Elliot didn’t help the Pies.
Player movement: The Pies have a few huge losses with Shaw (GWS) and Thomas (Carlton) traded by the club. Both players have been significant contributors over the last half a dozen years and will be sorely missed. Didak, Johnson, Jolly, Krakour and Russell all leave the club and will take years of experience off the list.
The Pies acquired Taylor Adams in the Shaw trade and traded for Karnezis and White. White played a good second half of the 2013 season for the Swans. He will complement Cloke in the forward half and can be a useful contributor with a big off season.
What to expect: The Pies have had ample midfield depth for many years as they fought out Grand Finals late in September. They lose some key personel in the engine room and the load that Pendlebury and Swan will now carry is significant more. They are more than capable of performing at All-Australian standard but the back up from the likes of Adams, Beams, Sidebottom and Ball will impact on the success of their year.
Key position talent is not a concern with Cloke, White, Reid, Brown and Lynch all capable of holding down a key post. If the smaller players and midfield can hold up they will be very competitive against most sides but lack some star power to go deep into September.
Draw: The Pies have a torrid start to their season with games against Fremantle, Sydney, Geelong, Richmond, North Melbourne, Essendon and Carlton to start. It is not inconceivable to see the Pies at 2-5 before they enter the Round 8 bye. That being said they still face Hawthorn twice in the second half of the year and the Eagles in Perth.
Final Word: A tough start to the season and a few off-season changes will be a difficult situation for Buckley to navigate. I don’t have high hopes for the Pies unless they can some how get a few unlikely wins early in the season. Don’t be surprised if the Pies stumble early and find it too difficult to play catch up to make it into the finals.
Collingwood UNDER 13.0 wins – $1.88