Remaining games: Essendon (AO), Collingwood (G)
The ladder leaders have been cruising for some time now and yet it’s difficult to find an expert who can think they can actually win the flag. Their healthy percentage lead over Brisbane should see them finish as minor premiers but a final round clash with Collingwood looms as the danger, particularly if Jordan De Goey and Adam Treloar are back for the Pies.
Predicted finish: 1st
Remaining games: Richmond (MS), Sydney (MS)
The Cats looked in ominous form after dismantling Essendon but now face a much bigger task in Richmond on Friday night. The Tigers could leapfrog them with a win but even if the Cats lose, it looks like they’ve done enough to solidify a top four spot.
Predicted finish: 3rd
Remaining games: Gold Coast (G), Sydney (CS), Carlton (G)
Written before the QClash on Wednesday night. Despite the loss of key defender Harris Andrews, the Lions should win their last three games which, at the very least, will see them finish equal top on points. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to catch Port on percentage, so Brisbane fans will likely be barracking for Collingwood in round 18. All but a lock for top two.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Remaining games: Geelong (MS), Adelaide (AO)
Despite a controversial season off the field, the Tigers have maintained strong form in recent weeks but face their biggest test yet against a rampaging Geelong. Beat the Cats and they should finish top four, although they can still lose that game and make it if West Coast slip up against St Kilda. At the very least they should have a home final (at the Gabba?)
Predicted finish: 5th
Remaining games: St Kilda(G), North Melbourne (MS)
The bad news? Adam Simpson’s team has been hit hard by injuries at the worst possible time. The good news? The Eagles play North Melbourne in round 18 so St Kilda is their biggest hurdle before making a late lunge for the top four. They’ll also want Geelong to beat Richmond on Friday night. Lose to the Saints and they could finish as low as sixth.
Predicted finish: 4th
Remaining games: West Coast (G), GWS (G)
If you’d asked us a month ago, it looked highly improbably that the Saints could miss the eight. But with two massive games left in the home-and-away season, any more slip-ups could see them miss out on October action. One win from their remaining two games will be enough to make the eight, but that could all come down to the last game against the Giants.
Predicted finish: 6th
Remaining games: Gold Coast (G), Port Adelaide (G)
The second-half comeback against arch-rivals Carlton looks to have proven pivotal for Nathan Buckley’s team. Even if they lose the final game to ladder leaders Port Adelaide, a win in round 17 over Gold Coast should be enough to lock in a finals spot. Lots of other results would have to go against them for Collingwood to win 9½ games and still miss. The Magpies play both of their games at the Gabba, a venue where they’ve won nine out of their last 11 games.
Predicted finish: 8th
Remaining games: Melbourne (G), St Kilda (G)
How can you predict anything when it comes to the Giants after watching them lose to Adelaide? They would need to win both remaining games and hope to take the spot of either Collingwood or the Western Bulldogs. Hard to tip them against anyone right now, so you couldn’t have them playing finals.
Predicted finish: 9th
Remaining games: Hawthorn (AO), Fremantle (CS)
A Marcus Bontempelli inspired win over the West Coast Eagles has put the Dogs right back in contention. They simply need to take care of games against lower-ranked Hawthorn and Fremantle to play finals, but one mistake could see them forfeit their spot to GWS or Melbourne. A tricky final-round clash against the Dockers looms as vital.
Predicted finish: 7th
Remaining games: GWS (G), Essendon (MS)
The Demons’ season was given a lifeline when GWS stumbled against Adelaide and now the two face off in a crunch game. If they were to somehow win both remaining games, they would finish on nine wins, meaning Collingwood would have to lose both games and/or the Western Bulldogs would have to lose one. They do have a good percentage.
Predicted finish: 10th
Remaining games: Adelaide (MS), Brisbane (G)
The Blues’ season was on the line twice in two weeks when leading against Collingwood at half-time and against GWS at three-quarter-time. They let both those leads slip and even a mighty comeback against Sydney won’t be enough for David Teague’s team. They’d have to thrash Adelaide and then beat Brisbane to be any glimmer of hope to make the eight on percentage. Put a line through them.
Predicted finish: 11th
Remaining games: Port Adelaide (AO), Melbourne (MS)
Essendon’s CEO Xavier Campbell, goal kicking legend Matthew Lloyd and members have all called for a response after last week’s putrid performance against Geelong. The only trouble is they have to go to the Adelaide Oval to play ladder leaders Port. Even with two unlikely wins to finish the year, it’s hard to see the Bombers playing finals.
Predicted finish: 14th
Sam McClure is a sport reporter for The Age and winner of ‘best news reporter’ at the AFL Media Association awards.