How Tough Is Our Draw?

How Tough Is Our Draw?
Wayne Bennett © Brisbane Broncos, Members Day, January 2016

How Tough Is Our Draw?

How Tough Is Our Draw?

How Tough Is Our Draw?

How Tough Is Our Draw?

How Tough Is Our Draw?

Footy fans have a lot to take in when they see their team's fixture for the whole 2016 Season.

How will they go in Round One? (v Eels away this Thursday night in Sydney)

When are the big home games? (See our most popular 4-Game Flexi Member match votes).

But one simple question is more difficult to answer – does your team have an 'easy' draw or a tough one?

First things first, there is no easy draw in the NRL.

Any team can beat any other on their day - for example, the Melbourne Storm finished in the Top Four in 2015 but were beaten by the team running last three times during the year.

But it's also fair to say that some opponents are considered tougher than others.

In the NRL's 26-round competition every club faces every other club once, plus a second game against nine teams.

So some teams will play more games against premiership contenders than others, while others will take on bottom-eight teams more often.

In 2015 the Manly Sea Eagles had the toughest draw in terms of opponents, with 14 of their 24 matches coming against Top Eight teams.

They went on to perform below expectations and miss out on the finals.

The Raiders, meanwhile, played the majority of their Season 2015 games against teams who went on to miss the finals, including a combined eight games against the bottom four clubs in the NRL last year.

The 'Green Machine' arguably surpassed expectations and finished with one of the best attacking records in the competition.

So who has the easiest and toughest draws in 2016?

After running some numbers, here's how the 2016 Draws rank from hardest to easiest.

1. Dragons
2. Cowboys
3. Bulldogs
4. Roosters
5. Brisbane Broncos
6. Eels
7. Rabbitohs
8. Warriors
9. Knights
10. Sharks
11. Panthers
12. Sea Eagles
13. Storm
14. Wests Tigers
15. Titans
16. Raiders

How did we come up with this list?

We've given each opponent a 'toughness score' with the strongest opponent worth 16 points and the weakest worth one point.

Then we've analysed each team's draw. Teams who play more games against tough opponents will have a higher score, and teams who play weaker teams more often will get a lower score.

We've run the numbers twice – first based on each team's finishing place in 2015 (with Minor Premiers the Roosters worth 16 points and wooden spooners the Newcastle Knights worth one).

And then based on the 2016 Premiership betting odds from Sportsbet (with title favourites the Brisbane Broncos worth 16 points). Both scores were combined to determine the rankings.

At the top of the list are the Dragons, who play home and away games against last year's top seven clubs (they finished eighth themselves).

The Cowboys will also play two games against each of last year's other seven finalists; their draw is only considered easier than the Dragons' because they don't have to play against themselves.

At the other end of the scale are the Raiders, who have to play only two of last year's finalists twice - the Bulldogs and Sharks.

Of course there is a lot more to a draw than a team's opponents.

Travel, the amount of time between matches, and the influence of the Origin period can all take their toll during the course of a season.

The Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys and the New Zealand Warriors will always do more travelling than the Sydney teams, while some teams can struggle without their Origin stars for a few games in the middle of the season, while others get the chance to take on weakened teams during that period.

And having a tough draw, in terms of opponents, may not even be a bad thing. Teams that get through a difficult campaign and still make the Top Eight are arguably better equipped to handle the pressure of finals football than other sides.

But teams who sit at the bottom of the list above will have one less excuse if they fail to live up to expectations in 2016.

Broncos 2016 Season Draw Analysis

Who they play twice: Eels, Warriors, Panthers, Cowboys, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Bulldogs, Storm, Roosters.

Who they play once: Titans, Knights, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Wests Tigers, Raiders.

Starting point: Including a Round One assignment at Parramatta, last year's runners-up begin their campaign against three teams who failed to make the finals last season in the Eels (away), Warriors (home) and Panthers (away).

The Broncos then have the honour of hosting the Grand Final Rematch against the Cowboys on a blockbuster Good Friday night clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Special quality seats not available to the general public available here with our Derby Deal Membership Package.

Brisbane play just two semi-finalists from 2015 in the first seven weeks, giving them a chance to build a great platform for the remainder of the season.

Tough run: Coach Wayne Bennett will call it an ideal preparation for a Finals Series but the Broncos are in for a bumper back-end to the season.

In their last 10 games of the regular season, Brisbane play the Bulldogs, Storm and Roosters twice each, including the last three games of the season in that order.

Hosting the Roosters in the final Round 26 should ensure the phrase "Finals have come a week early" gets a good run.

Show-stoppers: When you average more than 33,000 fans at home, every clash is an event but there are some absolute belters ready to rock Suncorp Stadium in 2016.

All games at home through the first 20 rounds are night fixtures and none will be bigger than the Good Friday grudge match with the Cowboys.

And if things have gone well, closing out the regular season against the Roosters will raise the roof.

Origin impact: (Byes: Rd 15, Rd 18) It's a long wait before the Broncos get their first designated bye but the trade-off is a lone game at home against the Wests Tigers in Round 12 with their large Origin contingent absent.

Coming out of Origin matches, the Broncos meet the Warriors, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs, all away from home, which could lead Bennett to rest some of his biggest stars.

This article first appeared on NRL.com

What do you think of the Broncos' 2016 NRL Draw below?

How Tough Is Our Draw?

Our 2015 NRL Draw was pretty tough but we still made the Grand Final. Let's go one better in 2016. Join us for this year's emotional rollercoaster ride as a 12-Game, 4-Game, Bronxnation or Supporter Member by clicking here.

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