Ahead of a hugely anticipated AFL Finals Series kicking off this weekend, we cast our eye over the five biggest questions this September.

1. Who can stop the Tigers?

The Tigers roared back into life after a mid-season slump and have timed their run to perfection in 2019. Heading into September with nine straight wins, Damien Hardwick’s men are primed to win their second flag in three years, and go in deserved AFL premiership favourites at $3.10 with Palmerbet. Such is their form, they are rated as $1.80 chances to make the Grand Final.

So who is going to stop them? Despite a home ground advantage, Brisbane start as $2.23 outsiders in their Qualifying Final clash against Richmond at The Gabba. Pending results, Geelong ($4.33 second favourites for the flag) would perhaps go in with the most confidence against the Tigers, having won their only encounter this year by 67 points. And given last year’s huge upset win in the preliminary final, Collingwood ($5 third favourites for the flag) would also fancy their chances.

But whoever does, it will take a special effort…

2. Will Collingwood’s ‘ins’ shape their September?

Speaking of the Pies, they welcome back a bevy of stars for their qualifying final against Geelong on Friday night, which they start as marginal $2.10 outsiders. As we knew, Jaidyn Stephenson returns from an extended AFL ban, superstar Jordan De Goey is back, last year’s Gary Ayres Medalist Steele Sidebottom is good to go, while Darcy Moore will also play. Wayne Carey believes three of them will be fine, but queried the fourth. “The only big question mark is Darcy Moore,” he said on Talking Footy. “Can he get through a whole game? That’s the question…unless he can look them in the eye and say ‘I’m ready to go’ with real confidence then I wouldn’t be playing him. I think it’s too big a risk.”

If all four can fire, one would think Collingwood are a red-hot chance for the flag. But if they can’t overcome their recent issues (be that injuries or extended periods away) the Pies could well struggle to match it with the best.

3. Who looms as the surprise packet?

Undoubtedly, the Dogs loom as the side most capable of causing an upset this AFL Finals Series. As we wrote a fortnight ago, they’ve come in massively. After round 13, Luke Beveridge’s side were all but done at 5-8, and were massive $151 outsiders for the flag. Fast forward to now, and the Dogs are into $15 to claim their second flag in four seasons.

Chris Judd has said the 2019 version of the Dogs are even better than 2016 when they won the flag. Could we see another dream September run from the Dogs?

4. Will the Bombers finally win a final?

It has been so long that there’s a dedicated Twitter account to counting the days…

That’s 15 years, in case you were wondering, since the Dons have won an AFL final. In that time, they’ve been beaten on four separate occasions in elimination finals. The latest, in 2017, they were thumped by 65 points in Sydney. Historically a successful club, Bomber fans have dealt with lots in recent years. So is this the year they break the drought? The markets suggest it won’t be. John Worsfold’s side start as $4.50 outsiders for the finals opener in the west on Thursday night.

5. Who will be Mr September?

A less-heralded, albeit coveted award is the Gary Ayres Medal, which is awarded (since 2016) to the best player of the finals series (click here to see Palmerbet’s market). 2017 winner Dustin Martin starts as favourite at $7, marginally ahead of Patrick Dangerfield ($7.50) and Brodie Grundy ($8). Behind them sit Brownlow fancy Lachie Neale ($10), proven September performer Scott Pendlebury ($11) and 2018 winner Steele Sidebottom ($15).

Fancy a bit of value? Collingwood star Jordan De Goey is currently at $23, the same price as the man Garry Lyon called the AFL’s best player – Elliot Yeo. If you fancy Gary Ablett to wind back the clock to Septembers of old, you can get $41.