It has been one of the most hotly contested AFL seasons since the new millennium and the final eight appears to be set.
However, the race for an invaluable top four spot continues; we take a look into the crystal ball to predict who will go into September with a double chance and every team’s run home.
Hawthorn – Bye, Port Adelaide (A), Sydney (A), Richmond (H), Carlton (H), Melbourne (A), North Melbourne (H), West Coast (A), Collingwood (H)
The sometimes underwhelming Hawks still manage to find themselves sitting atop of their rivals.
Following the bye, they only travel three times in their remaining eight games; they should finish in the top two and make the grand final in their attempt to be the first team since the start of the AFL era to win four consecutive premierships.
Sydney – Western Bulldogs (H), Geelong (A), Hawthorn (H), Carlton (H), Fremantle (A), Port Adelaide (H), St Kilda (A), North Melbourne (A), Richmond (H)
They boast one of the best midfields in the league with Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker providing the Swans with valuable depth to cause problems for any other side.
A tough month lies ahead with matches against the Bulldogs, Geelong and Hawthorn seemingly vital to their minor premiership hopes.
The match with North Melbourne in the minor season’s penultimate round will prove to be a showdown as the Swans look to solidify their premiership intentions.
Geelong – Bye, Sydney (H), Fremantle (A), Adelaide (H), Western Bulldogs (H), Essendon (H), Richmond (A), Brisbane (A), Melbourne (H)
Following a shock three-point loss to St Kilda this weekend, Geelong have a relatively simple run home but must learn that they can’t take any bottom eight team lightly.
They should do enough to gain a top four spot while Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Dangerfield proves vital in his team’s chances of success, but percentage will be a major factor in whether they achieve this or not.
GWS – Bye, Collingwood (H), Brisbane (A), Port Adelaide (A), Richmond (H), Gold Coast (A), West Coast (H), Fremantle (H), North Melbourne (A)
The Giants and their unstoppable home form have been a surprise packet; they haven’t lost at Spotless Stadium yet this season.
They do not play another top eight team until round 21 when they host West Coast, but must travel to Etihad Stadium to take on North Melbourne in round 23.
A maiden finals berth seems to be likely for the AFL’s youngest club, but they will be looking to secure a top-four spot along with a home final.
North Melbourne – Bye, West Coast (A), Port Adelaide (H), Collingwood (A), St Kilda (H), Western Bulldogs (A), Hawthorn (A), Sydney (H), GWS (H)
Their perfect start to the season had many pundits excited as the Kangaroos showed why they were early flag contenders.
A tough August lies ahead for North Melbourne, culminating in them hosting Sydney and the Giants in rounds 22 and 23 respectively.
Adelaide – Melbourne (A), Carlton (A), Collingwood (H), Geelong (A), Essendon (H), Brisbane (H), Fremantle (A), Port Adelaide (A), West Coast (H)
Don Pyke’s outfit have also surprised many this year, with convincing wins against many of their fellow top eight rivals.
They only play two top eight teams in Geelong and West Coast leading up to September.
However, they must travel to Victoria three times in the next month with games against Melbourne and Geelong providing them with a tough test.
Western Bulldogs – Sydney (A), Richmond (H), Gold Coast (H), St Kilda (H), Geelong (A), North Melbourne (H), Collingwood (H), Essendon (A), Fremantle (A)
The Bulldogs were eliminated in last year’s elimination final by an inspired Adelaide; Luke Beveridge will want his team to improve on that finish this season.
This week’s clash with Sydney at the SCG will be vital in showing their intentions of making an impact in the finals.
West Coast – Essendon (H), North Melbourne (H), Carlton (A), Melbourne (H), Collingwood (A), Fremantle (A), GWS (A), Hawthorn (H), Adelaide (A)
Their inconsistency this season will prove costly, having dropped many valuable points already.
GWS, Hawthorn and Adelaide in the final three rounds is not ideal for them, but they must show that they can match it with their rivals if they intend of being a genuine top four contender.
Sydney – 76
Hawthorn – 72
Adelaide – 68
Western Bulldogs – 60
West Coast – 60
North Melbourne – 56
This season has been one of the most evenly contested of the modern era with percentage looming to be vital for each team.
However, the race to the finals is still a long way ahead; it is going to be an exhilarating end to an already-great season.
Written by Michael Barbaro