As many people know, stats lie. Or do they? There are examples of teams that are statistically superior, but cannot seem to take home the four points.
There are other examples of teams that seem to be beaten in nearly every statistic, but somehow crawl over the line and claim victory.
At stats central, we do not care about those teams, we just crunch the numbers and let you decide.
After round one, the Western Jets had a strong victory over the Oakleigh Chargers, yet were beaten in nearly every statistic.
On face value it looked like the Chargers had overused the ball, but four weeks down the track and it is Oakleigh that seems to be the better side, with the Jets yet to win another game.
Does that mean that the signs were there even in that game despite being so impressive?
Sandringham Dragons top the statistical ladder as the only side on top in every statistical element.
The only problem is that they will lose a number of players to APS football and those numbers could drastically change, which is a shame considering it is a top two battle against fellow statistical giant Murray Bushrangers.
It is remarkable that the Bushrangers have 338 more disposals and 125 more marks than their opponents in four rounds.
They also have 27 more goals, which helps when you want to win.
The only statistic Murray loses is the tackles and only by six, but that could be explained by the fact it is awfully hard to tackle when you have the ball 85 more times a game than your opponent on average.
The Eastern Ranges sit in third and the most impressive statistic is the hitouts, with plus 90.
This is a whopping 37 more per game than their nearest rival, the Dandenong Stingrays.
In comparison, the Bendigo Pioneers are negative 100.
They have 3.5 times more hitouts than the Pioneers, which is simply jaw dropping.
The most interesting case study is the Oakleigh Chargers, sitting seventh on the statistical ladder, yet looking like challenging for a top four spot this year.
They are superior in marking, with 141 more than their opponents, meaning Oakleigh play a possession brand of football, but given it is just plus 66 in disposals, it shows that they can tend to turn it over as well.
The good news is, Oakleigh mark the ball every 3.3 disposals, so they elect to kick more so than handball.
With the introduction of the division two sides to the competition the last two rounds, it is hard to rank them compared to the TAC Cup clubs based on limited data.
The highest is Queensland, having won both its matches, already racking up a plus 149 differential in disposal and plus 62 marks.
Up the other end of the table, the Calder Cannons are far and away the worst team statistically and that reflects in the TAC Cup ladder.
The Cannons are minus 304 in disposals, minus 75 in marks, minus 18 in goals, but disappointingly, minus 18 in tackles.
For a team that is well beaten offensively, the defensive pressure is not standing up.
1 Sandringham Dragons: 1674 disposals (+221), 449 marks (+40), 196 hitouts (+45), 281 tackles (+10), 71 goals (+24)
2 Murray Bushrangers: 1442 disposals (+338), 357 marks (+125), 121 hitouts (+45), 209 tackles (-6), 59 goals (+27)
3 Eastern Ranges: 1247 disposals (+189), 253 marks (+34), 220 hitouts (+90), 292 tackles (-1), 62 goals (+25)
4 Dandenong Stingrays: 1204 disposals (+6), 290 marks (+1), 174 hitouts (+53), 248 tackles (+57), 45 goals (-2)
5 Geelong Falcons: 1307 disposals (+246), 239 marks (-4), 171 hitouts (+30), 258 tackles (-2), 65 goals (+15)
6 Queensland: 766 disposals (+149), 176 marks (+62), 80 hitouts (+18), 106 tackles (-34), 29 goals (+6)
7 Oakleigh Chargers: 1567 disposals (+66), 472 marks (+141), 154 hitouts (-30), 302 tackles (-49), 58 goals (+7)
8 NSW/ACT Rams: 787 disposals (+262), 189 marks (+66), 78 hitouts (-8), 107 tackles (-28), 25 goals (-2)
9 Gippsland Power: 904 disposals (-478), 197 marks (-109), 142 hitouts (+31), 252 tackles (+37), 33 goals (-29)
10 North Ballarat Rebels: 1150 disposals (-120), 321 marks (+5), 129 hitouts (-21), 211 tackles (-24), 43 goals (0)
11 Bendigo Pioneers: 1151 disposals (-43), 259 marks (-43), 63 hitouts (-100), 207 tackles (+23), 47 goals (-13)
12 Tasmania: 256 disposals (-63), 44 marks (-8), 42 hitouts (-26), 111 tackles (+32), 8 goals (-11)
13 Western Jets: 1145 disposals (-209), 262 marks (-88), 136 hitouts (+10), 224 tackles (-14), 43 goals (-14)
14 Northern Knights: 1276 disposals (-102), 281 marks (-72), 106 hitouts (-81), 246 tackles (+14), 41 goals (-27)
15 Northern Territory: 234 disposals (-152), 50 marks (-69), 25 hitouts (-7), 43 tackles (+4), 7 goals (-11)
16 Calder Cannons: 1081 disposals (-304), 274 marks (-75), 135 hitouts (-29), 226 tackles (-18), 42 goals (-18)
Based on statistics, we look ahead to this round:
Oakleigh Chargers* vs. Northern Territory
Geelong Falcons vs. Eastern Ranges
Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
North Ballarat Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers
Northern Knights vs. Tasmania
Murray Bushrangers* vs. Sandringham Dragons
Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
*Oakleigh and Sandringham will both be missing vital players due to APS football and therefore, that is taken into consideration. The Bushrangers should win their clash, but the Chargers are still deemed stronger than Northern Territory even with their bottom-age players playing.
In terms of top performing players so far this season, it’s hard to go past Bendigo Pioneers’ Kobe Mutch and Eastern Ranges’ Dylan Clarke.
Mutch will miss this weekend’s game with North Ballarat, which will be a huge loss for the Pioneers considering his average of 36 disposals, 7.7 marks and four tackles per game with the TAC Cup club and AFL Academy.
Clarke has been a tackling machine in 2016, averaging 8.3 tackles per game to go with his 28.8 disposals, 3.8 marks and more than a goal a game.
Only teammate Jordan Haynes has registered more tackles in season 2016, with a whopping 10.3 in four matches.
For the leading big men, Geelong Falcons’ Sean Darcy is averaging the most hitouts, with 31.3 per game, which could be attributed to his 201cm, 113kg frame.
Eastern Ranges’ Sam Hayes is the next best with 23.5 hitouts per game.
For the forwards, Dandenong’s Josh Battle is a dominant force with 16.5 disposals, nine marks and four goals per game, while Geelong Falcons’ Brett Blair is equally as impressive with 15.5 disposals, eight marks and 4.3 goals per game.
For those looking ahead to fantasy buys for next season, it is no surprise Mutch and Clarke top the list, with Sandringham Dragons’ midfielder Timothy Taranto not far behind.
Taranto has averaged 26.7 disposals, seven marks, 4.7 tackles and 1.3 goals per game in a strong start to the season.