How many sleeps?
... there are only 116 sleeps until the 2012 season commences on March 28th, when we see our inaugural Sydney Derby and the introduction of new kids on the block, Greater Western Sydney.
With Christmas upon us, Pauly B is counting down the number of sleeps...until the start of the 2012 AFL Season.
At a time when most of us are hauling out the Christmas decorations, attending the round of social Christmas events and indulging in just a little too much food and alcohol, a couple of hundred AFL footballers are already well into their pre-season training.
As the draft season comes to a close with 13 December's Pre-season and Rookie draft, most clubs have fared well in either enhancing already fairly strong sides, filling gaps where needed or continuing the rebuild they are currently undergoing.
There have been some losers, of course.
Think Brendan Fevola, who didn't raise an eyebrow of interest from any club.
Think Andrew Lovett, who got the cold shoulder to the idea of resurrecting his career at his old side, Essendon.
Think Nathan Ablett, who followed superstar brother Gaz up north, but only managed two games in 2011, and whose AFL career appears now over, although the whispers remain that he might end up back at Geelong...
(Of course, any or all three could end up finding a new home at the Rookie draft...but I don't like their chances...)
And some winners.
Think Setanta O'hAilpin, who seemed a potential loser when cut adrift by Carlton, but was happily snapped up by GWS.
Think GWS more generally, who got the cream of the new crop at the NAB Draft in Sydney on 24 November.
Think veteran Cameron Bruce, who Hawthorn threw a lifeline to in 2010, and who survived the Hawks' culling process this year on the back of some reasonable form in the second half of 2011.
With the draft period almost over, the countdown begins to 2012...and no, this does not mean until the beginning of the NAB Cup, which we don't count as 'real' football, right?
Well OK, we probably do, as true footy tragics, but it's just a warm up for the real thing...I mean, you can't take a competition that has 'round-robins' in it too seriously, can you?
Although admittedly I'll be watching the NAB Cup, happy to get even this watered down fix of real, do-or-die-for-the-premiership-flag footy, and there is no doubt that it is a great chance to see some of the young fellers being tested out on the park.
The other good thing about the NAB Cup is that it can be a a bit of a guide for punters as to how teams will fare in the actual first round a week after the Final, with about 80% of Cup winners going on to win in round one of the season proper (not such a great guide to Grand Final Winners, however, so don't be fooled!)
Thus, in reality there are only 116 sleeps until the 2012 season commences on March 28th, when we see our inaugural Sydney Derby and the introduction of new kids on the block, Greater Western Sydney.
While the AFL might hop this is a blockbuster such seems highly unlikely given the way the Suns kicked off their first season in 2011, and the game will probably end up being a sweet little percentage-boosting start for the Swans.
Looking ahead to the 2012 season, it's Collingwood who the punters are jumping on to take the 2012 Flag.
You have to wonder if this is a little pre-emptory and over confident to have them favourites so far out from the season: given a fairly universally agreed below-par effort in the 2011 Grand Final, an with a new untested coach in Nathan Buckley, can Collingwood power on?
Clearly Bucks was under the tutelage of 'the Master' Malthouse for several years, so it is likely he will hit the ground running, with a reasonably high chance of success in his first year at the helm given the playing list he inherits, but whether he can pull a Chris Scott and win a premiership in his first year remains to be seen.
If it's a bit of value you're after, look no further than the 2011 Premiers Geelong, especially in the Minor Premier and Premiership markets, who have drifted out from lows of under $3.00, and with the Hawks and Blues, both only a little behind the Cats and throwing up some value also.
At the other end, GWS are far and away favourites for the Wooden Spoon, having tightened in from a starting price of near 2.00, with the next closest side the Suns and Port Adelaide not too far behind.
Best of all, now that we've launched our new mobile site, you can check out all these markets and more via your smartphone our styling new platform, m.betfair.com.au.
CLICK HERE for more info about our new mobile betting site.
Stay tuned for more football updates as we build to another action packed AFL season in 2012...