IT COULD be the year of the resurgent Cats in 2016, with Geelong tipped to push back into premiership contention after a boom off-season recruiting drive.
Despite missing finals last year for the first time since 2006, the Cats have climbed to equal-third favouritism ($8) to win next season's premiership, according to the AFL's official wagering partner Crownbet.
One punter who got in early stands to earn a huge $78,000 payday if Geelong can salute after shelling out $3000 at juicy $26 odds back in October – before Patrick Dangerfield, Lachie Henderson, Scott Selwood and Zac Smith arrived at Simonds Stadium.
But Hawthorn remains the team to beat as the modern-day powerhouse takes a shot at matching Collingwood's fabled 1927-30 premiership sides.
The Hawks are $4.25 favourites to claim their fourth-straight flag, with beaten Grand Finalists West Coast ($6), Fremantle and the Cats (both $8) seen as the most likely challengers.
Port Adelaide is also expected to bounce back hard from a disappointing campaign. Crownbet is tipping the Power to be a near-certain finals side ($1.40) and has tightened them to $9 in flag betting.
Despite consecutive preliminary final appearances, North Melbourne's experienced and proven outfit is on the premiership outer at $17 – just behind the Swans ($13) and Richmond ($15).
Collingwood's new-look line-up is also $17 to push up from outside the top eight to clinch the flag this year, although one punter will collect $9500 if Nathan Buckley's men win less than 12.5 games after outlaying $5000.
The Pies have since come in slightly to $1.80 chances of making the top eight. Last year's semi-finalists Adelaide have ballooned to $2.50 following Dangerfield's departure.
Meanwhile, the ominously building Greater Western Sydney is seen to be the best chance of becoming the first of the expansion teams to qualify for finals at $2.50, compared to Gold Coast at $4.
In individual markets, reigning Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy is a clear favourite to lead the competition's goalkickers next season as he spearheads West Coast's powerful attack.
Kennedy is $4 to back up his 80-goal season with another big haul, while Sydney Swans' superstar Lance Franklin ($7) is short odds to get back to his best after a troubled 2015.
Young GWS gun Jeremy Cameron ($9) and Adelaide skipper Taylor Walker ($12) are among the other leading contenders.
Cameron stands to benefit from a rapidly improving Giants list, while Walker's biggest battle could be to improve his accuracy after booting 59.45 last season.
Meanwhile, Gold Coast champion Gary Ablett has firmed into Brownlow Medal favouritism at $6 after Fremantle star Nat Fyfe ($7) suffered a bulging disc in his back during the Dockers' final pre-Christmas training session.