HOBART, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Nathan Jones of the Demons celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 23 match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Melbourne Demons at Blundstone Arena on August 24, 2019 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Every season teams rise from the outside the top eight into the finals.

In 2017 it was the Tigers that came from 13th the year before to not only make the finals but break a 37-year premiership drought.

Last year Collingwood mimicked the Tigers effort in rising from 13th place but ultimately fell one kick short of premiership in a heartbreaking grand final loss to West Coast.

This past season the Lions leaped all the way from 15th to finish in second place.

So who is going to be the big improvers in 2020? Here are some potential contenders.


This might be the captain obvious choice, but the Hawks could do serious damage next season.

Only falling one win short of a top-eight berth last season, Alastair Clarkson’s side will welcome back 2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell from a broken leg in a major boost for their finals prospects.

Hawthorn picked up Jonathon Patton in the trade period for next to nothing, who could be anything if he gets his body right. It was only two years ago that the former No. 1 pick booted a career-high 45 goals in his last full season.

A big pre-season from Chad Wingard could also pay massive dividends too, who only played 14 games last season due to injuries.

There is plenty of upside on this Hawks list led by the best coach of the modern era.

St Kilda

The Saints had arguably the best off-season of any side and emerged as a genuine destination club.

The Saints picked up Brad Hill, Dan Butler, Zak Jones, Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder, all of which are expected to be in the senior side round one and bring their own unique edge.

But it was an off-field addition that was arguably the Saints’ greatest in recent months in newly appointed senior coach Brett Ratten.

History is on Ratten’s side, who took the Blues from wooden spooners in 2006 to seventh place in 2009. After taking over the Saints top job from Alan Richardson in the back end of last season, Ratten led the Saints to a 3-3 record behind a renewed quicker and more daring brand of footy.

Throw in a friendly fixture where they play seven of their first eight games at Marvel Stadium and there is every reason to be bullish about the Saints’ 2020 finals prospects.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 25: Bradley Hill poses for a photograph during a St Kilda Saints AFL media opportunity at RSEA Park on October 25, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)


If there’s one team that should never be counted out it’s the Sydney Swans. Yes, they didn’t land Joe Daniher in the trade period but there is still plenty to like.

The 2019 season marked the first time this decade that the Swans failed to make the finals and they haven’t missed two in a row this century. Unlike placing bets offline, sports betting sites have a wide variety of wagers to choose from for seemingly every sport. Bettors can then choose to wager on specific matches, outcomes, players, events, and special events.

Sydney had a big list turnover this off-season with Heath Grundy, Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh and Nick Smith all retiring and Jones moving to St Kilda.

The Swans topped up with senior players Lewis Taylor, Kaiden Brand and Sam Gray to add to what is a still a strong nucleus. But it is the improvement from the youngsters that could really propel this team.

If Isaac Heeney can become a genuine A-grade star and the likes of Tom McCartin, Will Hayward, Oliver Florent, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey take their games to new heights, the sky is the limit.


The Blues have been touted as potential improvers over the last couple of seasons with nothing materialising. Is 2020 the year Carlton finally makes big strides forward?

Armed with some of the best young talent in the league, including Sam Walsh, Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow and Sam Petrevski-Seton, plus new coach David Teague, there is a renewed sense of hope among Blues fans.

Sam Docherty will take the field for the first time since 2017 and Eddie Betts will bolster the forward line.

The key missing ingredient for the Blues has been a lack of A-grade talent. Most games it feels like it’s Patrick Cripps taking on the world.

The youngsters don’t necessarily have to become stars overnight, but if a number of them improve or buy into a role like Jack Silvagni did at the end of last season, Carlton will be a much more competitive side.


Only 14 months ago the Demons played in a preliminary final, yet fell all the way down to 17th last season in one of the biggest slides we’ve ever seen.

Hampered by several pre-season surgeries that carried into last season, Melbourne will have a better run at it this summer and have no excuses to not get back to their winning ways.

A team that was on the rise for so many years has all the tools to return to September.

Simon Goodwin must work out how to best utilise his talented midfield group and they need to find more goal-kicking power. Christian Petracca led the club’s goals tally with 22 last season, and only three players eclipsed the 20-goal mark.

In 2018, Tom McDonald kicked 53 goals, Jesse Hogan kicked 47 and Jake Melksham kicked 32.

A large onus of this falls on Sam Weideman, who must become a reliable scoring source if the Demons are to make any noise.