THERE'S a lot to like about Adelaide in 2022.

Many pundits had the Crows pegged to be a bottom-four team, and while that may still happen, nothing in the first six rounds suggests anything other than a major improvement in Matthew Nicks' third year in charge.

There are the obvious things to like – Josh Rachele's flair and finishing, Jordan Dawson's impact from defence and Ben Keays' development into one of the most reliable midfielders in the competition.

There's also the less obvious. Elliott Himmelberg and Lachie Gollant proving they can affect results as key forwards, Billy Frampton converting to defence, and Matt Crouch's successful comeback from an injury-ravaged 2021.

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Five-goal Rachele lighting up your telly

Crows debutant Josh Rachele was a shining light in his side's agonising loss with a stunning five-goal performance

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Adelaide is more difficult to play against this year and more difficult to score against.

Statistics provided by Champion Data show the Crows are ranked third in the competition for contested possession differential.

They win the stat by an average of 9.5 a game.

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It's a great building block and a big reason why they have 13 disposals more than their opponents each week – a huge jump from the minus 12.3 of 2021.

They do most of their scoring from stoppages, and it's little wonder with Keays, Crouch and Rory Laird at the coalface averaging 15 clearances a game between them.

They average an extra eight points a game in scores from stoppages than the opposition – good enough for third in the AFL.

Ben Keays in action during the R4 clash between Adelaide and Essendon at Marvel Stadium on April 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

It's a huge improvement after losing the statistic last year and being ranked 12th.

With Rachele in the mix, Taylor Walker back in fantastic form, and Himmelberg and Gollant regular goalkicking contributors, the Crows are averaging 83 points a game, 10 more than 2021.

It's all added up to a 3-3 start ahead of Saturday's stoush with Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval, and the hope of toppling last season's seven-win tally.

Although the overriding emotion should be one of encouragement, there are still huge areas of improvement.

Taylor Walker has been outstanding in his return to the side since being suspended. Picture: AFL Photos

The Crows simply don't score enough from turnovers.

In recent years, most successful teams win the 'turnover game' (that is, heavily outscoring their opponents from turnovers), rather than the 'stoppage game', which Adelaide is doing so well this year.

No team generates a higher percentage of its scores (49.6 per cent) from stoppages than the Crows.

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The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne were the top two teams last season for scores from turnover differential, while this year it's high-flying Fremantle and the Demons filling those top two spots.

Conversely, Adelaide struggles creating turnovers in the front half of the ground, winning the fewest forward-half intercepts and scoring the fewest points from that source in the AFL.

So, while there's a lot to like about the Crows through the opening quarter of the season, there's plenty for Nicks and his coaching staff to build off if they want to create a sustainable scoring brand.

Adelaide Improvement

2021 Avg.


2022 Avg.


Disposal Diff.





Contested Possession Diff.





Scores from Fwd Half Stoppages





Scores from Stoppages Diff.





Scores per Inside 50 %