MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Tom Barrass of the Eagles celebrates with the Premiership Cup after the 2018 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Could Melbourne’s 54-year premiership drought come to an end in 2019?

The Demons were one of the surprise packets in the 2018 finals series by defeating Geelong and Hawthorn, before succumbing to West Coast in the preliminary final.

Last seasons progression, plus the addition of Steven May in the trade period has led to Champion Data ranking the Demons as the best team in the AFL.

According to Champion Data, the Demons have the league’s second-best backline, fifth-best forward line and number one midfield.

Melbourne ranked first for hit-outs and second for clearances and tackles last season.The Demons pride themselves on their contested football, with Clayton Oliver leading the way in midfield by being ranked the third best midfielder in the game.

Former Melbourne captain Gary Lyon questioned whether the Demons have the best defence in the league.

“My question is who has a better defence?” Lyon told SEN Breakfast.

“Richmond with Dylan Grimes, Alex Rance, David Astbury, Bachar Houli, Nick Vlaustin, Jayden Short. For me, that defence for most of 2018, I remember looking at it going, that’s just incredible. They’ve been ranked number six.

“It’s a subjective thing and they’ve got a formula, but I would take Richmond’s defence over Melbourne’s, yet Melbourne’s been ranked at two and Richmond’s been ranked at six.

“Maybe it’s the Steven May factor.”

Melbourne are joined by Adelaide and Richmond as having the top three lists in the competition.

Champion Data’s rating of Adelaide comes as a surprise given they finished 12th last season, failing to back up their Grand Final outing in 2017.

Despite their disappointing showing, the Crows rank first for defence, have the second best forward line and the third best midfield.

Champion Data surprisingly ranked premiers West Coast as the 11th best team. The Eagles don’t have an elite midfielder (top 10 per cent of the AFL), with Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Elliot Yeo all rated above average (11-35 per cent).

Last year, the Eagles ranked last for ground balls during the home and away season but turned it around in September to win the count in every final.

The full list of Champion Data rankings is listed below:

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