The Bulldogs will look to climb into the Top 8 after missing by the skin of their teeth last season. (Image: Western Bulldogs)

After missing finals by the skin of their teeth, can the Bulldogs improve and find themselves back in the Top 8 in 2024?

2023 Overview:

The 2023 AFL season ended in disappointment for the Western Bulldogs despite staying inside the Top 8 from Round 8 until Round 23 where they slipped into 9th place. This is where they stayed in the end, but with a few off-season changes to the side, will they improve enough to jump up in 2024?

In a season of fine margins, the Dogs’ slip ups were critical in the end. Had they won games which they lost against the struggling West Coast Eagles at home and the bottom-four Hawks in Tasmania, they would have been in a much more comfortable position, and this added to the dissatisfaction of what was a disappointing season overall.

Off Season Changes:

In: Lachie Bramble (SSP, Hawthorn), Nick Coffield (St Kilda), Jordan Croft (Pick 15, father-son), Joel Freijah (Pick 45), James Harmes (Melbourne), Aiden O’Driscoll (Pick 55), Ryley Sanders (Pick 6), Lachlan Smith (Pick 47)

Out: Josh Bruce (retired), Hayden Crozier (delisted), Mitch Hannan (delisted), Robbie McComb (delisted), Toby McLean (delisted), Tim O’Brien (delisted), Cody Raak (delisted), Roarke Smith (delisted), Jordon Sweet (Port Adelaide)

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Round 1: v Melbourne, Sunday March 17, 1pm MCG

Round 2: v Gold Coast Suns, Sunday March 24, 1pm Mars Stadium

Round 3: v West Coast Eagles, March 31, 1pm Marvel Stadium

Round 4: v Geelong Cats, April 6, 8.10pm Adelaide Oval

Round 5: v Essendon, April 12, 7.40pm Marvel Stadium

Round 6: v St Kilda, April 18, 7.30pm Marvel Stadium

Round 7: v Fremantle Dockers, April 27, 7.30pm Optus Stadium

Round 8: v Hawthorn, May 5, 4pm Marvel Stadium

Round 9: v Richmond, May 11, 7.30 pm MCG

Round 10: v GWS Giants, May 18, 4.35pm Giants Stadium

Round 11: v Sydney Swans, May 23, 7.30pm Marvel Stadium

Round 12: v Collingwood, May 31, 7.40pm Marvel Stadium

Round 13: v Brisbane Lions, June 7, 7.40pm Marvel Stadium

Round 14: v Fremantle Dockers, June 15, 1.45pm Marvel Stadium

Round 15: Bye

Round 16: v North Melbourne, TBC Marvel Stadium

Round 17: v Port Adelaide, TBC Adelaide Oval

Round 18: v Carlton, TBC Marvel Stadium

Round 19: v Geelong Cats, TBC GMHBA Stadium

Round 20: v Sydney Swans, TBC SCG

Round 21: v Melbourne, TBC Marvel Stadium

Round 22: v Adelaide Crows, TBC Adelaide Oval

Round 23: v North Melbourne, TBC Marvel Stadium

Round 24: v GWS Giants, TBC Mars Stadium

Looking At 2024:

In 2024, the Western Bulldogs will be hoping to redeem themselves after a disappointing 2023 season and a failed attempt to make finals.

With a solid group of experienced players such as Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Tim English, Jack Macrae, and Adam Treloar, among others who played well in 2023, and rising young talent like Cody Weightman, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy at their disposal, the Dogs would be confident they can be a Top 8 in 2024.

Moreover, the Dogs have brought in some exciting new names the Dogs for the 2024 season, with former St Kilda player Nick Coffield, former Hawk Lachlan Bramble, and Melbourne premiership player James Harmes looking to make an impact along with a solid group of draftees in Ryley Sanders, Joel Freijah, Lachlan Smith, Jordan Croft, and Aiden O’Driscoll.

Will these new additions give the Bulldogs enough of an edge to climb back into the Top 8? We’ll have to wait and see, but the new group of players look very promising as they help the side seek redemption in 2024.

Prediction: 5th

After falling just short last season, the Western Bulldogs in will be hungry to put that disappointment behind them and climb back to where they belong.

The current playing group has plenty of finals experience, and when it matters most they should be able to get the job done more often than not.

The range that the side could finish on the ladder is quite large, but many Bulldogs fans would be hoping for a stronger season and there is no reason why that can’t happen.

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