After a dominant 2020 AFL season, is Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale a lock to take Charlie home on Sunday night? Or could he be pipped late?

For three of the last four years, we’ve seen the overwhelming favourite prevail on Brownlow Medal night.

In 2016, Geelong Patrick Dangerfield turned up at the Crown Palladium a red-hot $1.16 chance and went on to win by a whopping nine votes. In 2017, Richmond’s Dustin Martin was the shortest-priced favourite ever at $1.05 and polled a record 36 votes to easily prevail by 11 votes. The following year, in 2018, Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell was similarly fancied to take the AFL’s most coveted prize home, and won by four votes as $1.45 favourite.

It then begs the question: As the $1.25 Brownlow Medal favourite in 2020, is Brisbane’s Lachie Neale similarly a lock to claim the honour on Sunday night?

The frontrunner

The numbers certainly suggest so. Neale lead all before him in disposals this AFL season (487). He was also second in contested possessions (223), fifth in clearances (95) and booted 12 goals. Neale’s Lions side won 14 of 17 games, which also increases his chances of acquiring votes. Further, he had few players stealing considerable votes from him. Brisbane’s two other expected highest vote getter Dayne Zorko and Jarryd Lyons are only considered $8 and $11 hopes respectively to finish in the Top 10 by the end of the count. When the AFL season re-started back in Round 2, Neale was $11 with Palmerbet to win his first medal. But his price shortened almost weekly, and finally into $1.25.

His blistering start to the season, where he’s expected to poll heavily, will see him pull away early. But could he be caught late in the season?

The chasing pack

Since the conclusion of Round 11, the two players who’ve sat second and third (interchangeably) in Brownlow betting has been Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak (now $7 with Palmerbet) and Melbourne’s Christian Petracca ($8). By some margin, they’re the two players most fancied to cause an upset on Sunday night. Both had superb seasons in the engine rooms of their respective AFL clubs. And while Boak has been a prolific vote-getter over the years (on six occasions he has polled 10 or more votes), this has been by far Petracca’s breakout year. The 24-year-old has only polled five votes in his entire career, and finished last season with zero votes despite playing all 22 games.

The smokies

If you fancy Boak or Petracca, or anyone else to upset Neale for that matter, ‘the field’ is currently paying $3.75. But if you fancy even better odds in the outright market, St Kilda best-and-fairest winner Jack Steele ($13) is the main smoky. Then there’s former winner Dangerfield and Dogs ball-magnet Jack Macrae at $21, ahead of another former winner in Martin, and Marcus Bontempelli at $26. Beyond that pack, the field consists of $50-plus (very much) outside hopes in the AFL Brownlow Medal market.

Other tips

Of course, there’s a host of other markets to bet on with Palmerbet:

  • Petracca’s breakout year in a mostly disappointing side should see him poll very strongly, including a number of three-voters. He represents good value at $3.50 in the ‘Winner Without Neale’ market
  • Collingwood’s Taylor Adams had an outstanding season and, aside from skipper Scott Pendlebury, won’t have many players stealing votes from him. Currently $5 to sneak into the Top 5.
  • Steele polled AFL Coaches votes in more games than any other player. Could that translate into umpires votes on Brownlow night? He’s currently $6 in the ‘Player To Poll In The Most Games’ market.

*Odds correct at 5pm Thursday October 15