ONLY four teams remain after the second week of the 2017 AFL Finals Series.
Incredibly, the Sydney Swans are not among them.
John Longmire’s men were overwhelmed on Friday night as Geelong bounced back with a vintage display at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The decision to start Patrick Dangerfield at full forward was a match winner, albeit enabled by some very generous calls from the umpires.
While one great of the game flourished, Sydney superstar Lance Franklin finished goalless on a night to forget.
— Ethan (@ethan_meldrum) September 15, 2017
— SERGIO DERANG0 (@SERG1O_D) September 15, 2017
— Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) September 15, 2017
The shock result means the Cats will meet Adelaide in a preliminary final next weekend.
Even though the Crows have played only once in a month, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has them as $1.43 favourites to make the big dance.
Geelong, despite showing on Friday that there is no substitute for genuine finals intensity, are paying upwards of $3 at some bookies.
The winner of that clash will face either Richmond or Greater Western Sydney in the decider.
Humbled in Adelaide the week prior, the Giants responded in emphatic fashion to defeat the West Coast by 11 goals and change.
One among several shining stars was Steve Johnson, who kicked a bag of six after missing selection for the qualifying final in Adelaide.
For all the fireworks GWS set off on Saturday night, it was the poor turnout at Spotless Stadium and the even worse commentary on the Seven Network that grabbed Twitter’s attention.
Crowd of 14,865 is the lowest crowd for a final since 1916, in the midst of the first world war. #AFLGiantsEagles
— 1116 SEN Footy (@SENfooty) September 16, 2017
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) September 16, 2017
— CrownBet.com.au (@crownbet) September 16, 2017
If the prevailing opinion on social media is anything to go by, CrownBet’s $2.25 quote on a Crows/Tigers AFL Grand Final quinella is excellent value.
At the other end of the scale, a Cats/Giants title fight is paying $7.50 odds.
Minor premiers Adelaide ($2.60) still hold pole position over Richmond ($3) in the outright betting, ahead of GWS at $4.75 and Geelong out at $5.75.
One thing we can guarantee is that nobody on Twitter will be whinging about empty seats this weekend.
Crows fans will be out in force to cheer their favourites and jeer Dangerfield, while the crowd at the MCG this Saturday could be the most one-sided in VFL/AFL history.
Still, plenty among the ‘neutrals’ are holding out hope of an upset or two.
There's something about 90,000 people all going home disappointed that appeals to me. #afltigersgiants
— Chris Round (@__Rounders__) September 18, 2017
— Mike Hauser (@Hauser_Mike) September 17, 2017
Looking ahead to the major AFL Grand Final betting markets, the smart money says an Adelaide midfielder will claim the Norm Smith Medal.
Rory Sloane shares an $8 quote at CrownBet with Richmond’s Dustin Martin, who could well be shooting for the coveted Brownlow/Norm Smith double if the Tigers tame the Giants this weekend.
Not far behind them is Crows ball-magnet Matt Crouch ($8.50) and his similarly gifted brother, Brad Crouch ($11).
Club captains Trent Cotchin and Taylor Walker are paying $13 apiece, which are shorter odds than any player from Geelong or GWS.
Dangerfield ($14) and Mitch Duncan ($23) are the top picks for the Cats, while the newly re-signed Josh Kelly leads the orange and charcoal contingent at $15.
— bet365_aus (@bet365_aus) September 18, 2017
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) September 16, 2017
Stevie J for the Norm Smith. 10 year anniversary. #AFLFinals
— Brad 🕵🏻 (@HorseMiller3) September 16, 2017
Sportsbet’s 24 Up early payout special returns for AFL 2018
Ladbrokes launches AFL betting specials for 2018
2018 AFL club futures odds, tips best bets – the cellar dwellers
NRL specials, AFL bonuses & all the best bookie promotions
2018 AFL futures odds, tips and predictions – the middle class
2018 AFL team odds, tips & predictions – the premiership fancies
Best bookmaker specials for NBA All-Stars, AFLX & more
Australian Sports, Racing and Gaming Industry News – February 12