As the 2023 AFL season approaches, so does the endless speculation and predictions around the next year of footy.

The lead up to Round 1 is always surrounded by predictions of premiership flags and Brownlow winners, but we here at Zero Hanger are taking a broader look at the season and revealing our 50 predictions for 2023.

Here's Part 1 (50-41) of our 50 fearless predictions for the years ahead.

50. Gold Coast finally make the eight 

After trying since their inception back in 2011, the Gold Coast Suns will finally crack the top eight in 2023 and progress through to their maiden finals series.

Ben King will return to action after his ACL injury, while Touk Miller is set to continue his fine form in the Suns' midfield, as their other young talents continue to get better. Will the Suns get any further than an elimination final with their lack of experience at the pointy end of the season? Perhaps not. But at the very least, a September appearance is beckoning.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Ben King of the Suns and Darcy MacPherson celebrate a goal during the round 3 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium on June 21, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

49. 'Gather Round' gathers steam

The AFL's introduction of April's 'Gather Round' - a festival of football set to be held in South Australia - led to plenty of mixed reactions around the league from fans.

The new round, which will be based entirely in SA, will see the season expand to 24 rounds this year and while some may be hesitant about the decision from the AFL, few will be after it concludes.

While the next iteration of 'Gather Round' is unlikely to be held in SA, the success of the 2023 version could see a bidding war between states.

48. All aboard the Ginnivan train 

After a polarising 2022 season in which Jack Ginnivan became a well-known name in the footy world, 2023 will be the year his critics finally turn into fans.

The peroxide Pie garnered some negative attention for his actions on the field, but is set to convert those very detractors as he only improves this season.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Jack Ginnivan of the Magpies celebrates a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 06 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 25, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

47. Adelaide's rebuild finally clicks 

After an eight-win season in 2022, Adelaide's gradual rebuild seems to be heading in the right direction.

Finals footy hasn't been a reality for the Crows for several years, and won't be in 2023, but this will be the year we finally see their rebuild click.

The recruitment of Izak Rankine is set to inject some excitement into the outfit, while some talented youngsters are set to come of age.

46. The tactical sub continues to divide 

The AFL has officially scrapped the medical sub this season, instead opting for a tactical sub, similar to previous iterations of the rule.

The medical sub divided opinions throughout its short time in the game, whether that was by seemingly being manipulated by teams for tactical reasons, or seeing players sit on the bench for the duration of their debut match.

Heeding to the criticisms by fans, the league scrapped the medical substitution in favour of a broader tactical sub. Will this go off without a hitch though? No. It was scrapped by the the league in 2015 for a reason - and was widely disliked.

45. AFL introduces two new rule interpretations mid-season 

Before the lead-up to the season has even had chance to gather stream, the AFL has already announced alterations to several rules, designed to make officiating easier and quicker.

Despite mild tweaks to rules here and there across the seasons, players always find a way to exploit rules, and 2023 will prove to be no different, making the AFL act.

AFL Rd 10 - Collingwood v West Coast
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: A Magpies fan abuses the umpires during the round 10 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 24, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

44. Lance Franklin finds vintage form 

After months of speculation about where, or if, he would be playing footy in 2023, the superstar forward recommitted to Sydney with a one-year deal.

The 36-year-old kicked 52 goals from 23 matches last season and looks to be fit heading into the new season. With the Swans pushing for a redemptive grand final appearance after their 2022 smashing, tip Lance Franklin to help put them there.

43. Adam Simpson under pressure by the bye

The Eagles will prove that a disastrous 2022 wasn't an anomaly, but a trend. The Eagles were relegated to a 17th-place finish last season, dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks and injury issues throughout the year.

Despite being set to regain some experience this year as some injured players return, the Eagles won't be making a quick ascent back up the ladder, leaving plenty of pressure on coach Adam Simpson.

42. Jason Horne-Francis delivers on Power potential 

After what, from the outside at least, looked like a promising but mildly chaotic debut season, Jason Horne-Francis is ready to capitalise on the hype in his new colours.

A dramatic trade period saw the young gun get his wish to return to South Australia after just one season at North Melbourne, signing with Port Adelaide.

Now back in his home state, Power fans should be preparing to see some special footy from the No.1 draft pick.

Port Adelaide recruit Jason Horne-Francis. Image via Port Adelaide Twitter

41. Kysaiah Pickett turns his back on trade speculation and re-signs early

Melbourne's premiership small forward Kysaiah Pickett is out of contract at the end of the season and is already attracting plenty of trade speculation.

The 21-year-old was reportedly attracting interest from the Power last season and is in no rush to put pen to paper. However, the fan favourite will turn his back on any rival interest early in the season and sign on with the Dees.