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Essendon to Stick with Cats in AFL Blockbuster

Australian Rules Round 16

The Essendon Bombers and Geelong Cats desperately need a win, which should make for an exciting Aussie Rules game on Friday.

Essendon is hoping to bounce back from a narrow loss to Melbourne, and Geelong wants to turn around a hefty loss to the Brisbane Lions last week.

Matthew Stokes of Geelong Football Club kicks the ball during the Australian Football League Challenge Trophy
AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL

Online betting markets have the Cats as firm favorites, but we wouldn’t be ruling out the Bombers of making it a close contest.

Will the Cats Recover?

We had high expectations of the Geelong Cats vs Brisbane Lions last week, but the Cats couldn’t have been any more disappointing.

They scored only 50 points in the 94-50 loss and it was a poor effort, considering it followed one of their greatest wins this season.

Geelong had come off beating the Western Bulldogs on the full-time siren. The Bulldogs have since destroyed the West Coast Eagles, so there’s nothing wrong with the form, but the Cats were unable to produce.

They did some things right, but they were beaten by counterattack play, which is usually a strength of the Cats.

“They (the Lions) are getting beaten in clearances and contested possessions. But because they’re active in the stoppages, it’s allowing them to get out of the stoppage really quickly and Geelong look like they’re stuck in the mud,” four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis told Fox Footy.

However, the Cats are experts at bouncing back from a loss. They lost in Round One before winning their next two games against Adelaide, Hawthorn and Brisbane. They also lost to Sydney in Round Seven before going on a six-game winning streak.

Australian Rules betting markets have the Cats as -26½-point favorites, so bookmakers are expecting them to be far too strong.

Essendon Good Enough to Win

We think the Essendon Bombers aren’t getting enough respect in the market and we don’t think it will be a one-sided affair.

They may have lost to the Melbourne Demons last week, but Melbourne is one of the leading teams and the margin was only 11 points. We rate Melbourne ahead of Geelong, so the betting line seems off.

They struggled to find the mark, which was the losing of the game.

“When you play Melbourne you just have to kick straight. Only nine marks a game on average inside 50. That means you’re not many set shots against them, so if you don’t kick straight, you just can’t beat them,” said the Channel 7 commentary team.

It’s a Bombers outfit that has already posted quality wins over the likes of West Coast, Fremantle and Hawthorn. They might have lost some games in poor fashion, especially a 119-65 loss to Port Adelaide and a 102-45 loss to Brisbane, but we’re prepared to forgive those efforts.

There is no denying that Essendon is an enigmatic team; you never know what to expect. However, that’s what makes them so dangerous.

The Bombers showed their scoring power when putting up 109 points against Collingwood and 143 against St Kilda. They also scored 141 points against North Melbourne, which isn’t a fantastic form guide, but it shows bettors that they can produce stellar offense.

Despite not scoring over 87 in their last four games, Essendon is ready to break out and produce a fine performance against the Cats on Friday.

Essendon vs Geelong History

Geelong has won the last two meetings against Essendon by a combined margin of 98 points. However, Essendon had won the previous two meetings by a combined total of 51 points.

The home team has had a considerable advantage recently, with the last four meetings going to the home side. However, the most recent game was played at the Gabba, so it was a neutral home game for Geelong.

Mitchell Duncan and Tom Hawkins have been standout Cats performers against Essendon. Duncan has four goals from five games and his work rate has been outstanding.

Hawkins has 16 goals in five games against Essendon, so expect the forward to see plenty of the ball.

Pick

We think Geelong will be tough to beat, but we don’t think it covers the sizable spread.

Most of the games Essendon have lost have been close, and Geelong didn’t look impressive losing to the Lions.

It should be a competitive game that could come down to the final quarter. That plays into the hands of the Bombers and we’re happy to take the +26½ points.

Pick: Essendon Bombers +26½ (-110)

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