144 games into the AFL season and already 7 of the 8 finals spots have been secured. Barring any major meltdowns – Hawthorn, Essendon (subject to ASADA’s intervention), Geelong, Sydney, Fremantle, Richmond and Collingwood will play finals football in 2013.
8th place however, remains up for grabs with Port Adelaide (9 wins 7 losses) currently occupying the last position available.
Carlton (8 wins 8 losses) is in 9th while Adelaide, Brisbane and West Coast all have 7 wins and 9 losses with just percentage separating them.
While Port Adelaide remain in the box seat, Brisbane’s resurgence along with Adelaide and Carlton’s crucial victories last weekend ensures that 8th spot is still open.
With that in mind, I’ve got the crystal ball out of the cupboard for the first time since March to try and predict who will end up with the final ticket to the September dance.
Port Adelaide (8th: 9 wins/7 defeats, 108.7%)
Matches To Come: R18: Brisbane (AAMI Stadium), R19: Adelaide (AAMI Stadium), R20: Geelong (Kardinia Park), R21: Gold Coast (AAMI Stadium), R22: Fremantle (Subiaco), R23: Carlton (AAMI Stadium)
Season 2013: Port Adelaide are the surprise packet of 2013. Many tipped Ken Hinkley’s men would struggle but they have impressed with a mix of youth and experience. They have won 4 matches against top 8 sides from last year this season (Collingwood, Sydney, Adelaide and West Coast) while unearthing talents in Jake Neade, Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard. While many have predicted that the Power would fall off the pace, they have defied predictions by actually getting better towards the end of the season.
The Run Home: There are no easy games in the last 6 weeks. Brisbane will be tough to beat while Showdown clashes are always 50/50 regardless of ladder positions. Geelong and Fremantle away will be extremely difficult. While the Gold Coast game looks winnable, the Suns will be tough to beat. Their final match against Carlton looks likely to be a playoff for 8th place.
Prediction: 3 wins/3 losses, 12-10 record, 8th position.
Carlton (9th: 8 wins/8 defeats, 110.6%)
Matches To Come: R18: Gold Coast (Metricon), R19: Fremantle (Etihad), R20: Western Bulldogs (Etihad), R21: Richmond (MCG), R22: Essendon (MCG), R23: Port Adelaide (AAMI Stadium).
Season 2013: Carlton under Mick Malthouse is no different to Carlton under Brett Ratten. The Blues are honest competitors who rarely put in a horrid performance. However, they still lack a key forward and another running midfielder to transform them into a premiership contender. While they have recorded some impressive wins, their victory over Port Adelaide in Round 8 is their only win against a top 8 side this season which has hurt their record.
The Run Home: Difficult is an understatement. They play four top 8 sides plus the in-form Gold Coast away. The Western Bulldogs is the only game they will start favourites. The Blues must record 2 wins out of matches against Fremantle, Essendon and Richmond to have any hope of playing in September. If they are still in contention, their final round clash with Port will determine their fate.
Prediction: 2 wins/4 losses, 10-12 record, 10th position.
West Coast Eagles (10th: 7 wins/9 defeats, 104.3%).
Matches To Come: R18: Western Bulldogs (Etihad), R19: Gold Coast (Subiaco), R20: Essendon (Etihad), R21: Geelong (Subiaco), R22: Collingwood (MCG), R23: Adelaide (Subiaco).
Season 2013: Many tipped them to be premiers this season but the Eagles have been pretenders in 2013. Constant Injuries and speculation over John Worsfold’s future haven’t helped but the Eagles big players in Cox, Kerr and Embley have had ordinary seasons. Famous for their home ground record, the Eagles have only won 2 out of 9 games at home this season which has damaged their finals chances.
The Run Home: The Eagles should win their next two against the Bulldogs and Suns but after that, it becomes too difficult. Geelong at home sandwiched between Essendon and Collingwood away are mountains the Eagles will struggle to conquer. They should beat Adelaide at home in the last round but that will probably be to no avail.
Prediction: 3 wins/3 losses, 10-12 record, 11th position.
Adelaide Crows (11th: 7 wins/9 defeats, 102.4%)
Matches To Come: R18: Fremantle (Subiaco), R19: Port Adelaide (AAMI Stadium), R20: North Melbourne (AAMI Stadium), R21: Western Bulldogs (Etihad), R22: Melbourne (AAMI Stadium), R23: West Coast (Subiaco).
Season 2013: The Crows are a contender for most disappointing team in 2013. The loss of Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett hurt while they’ve lacked the midfield desire and defensive discipline that powered them into a Preliminary Final last year. While they’ve had some stirring wins (Geelong, North Melbourne), the Crows have also had some heartbreaking losses (Hawthorn, West Coast, Port Adelaide) and some awful defeats (Essendon and Sydney). To play finals footy, the Crows must win all of their six remaining matches while hoping for some luck.
The Run Home: Fremantle and West Coast in Perth bookend the run home. Without Dangerfield, beating Fremantle is almost an impossible task while the Eagles in Perth will always be a challenge. In between, there are four winnable games for the Crows against Port, North, the Bulldogs and Melbourne. While I don’t think they will make finals, they have a great opportunity to set a tone for season 2014.
Prediction: 4 wins/2 losses, 11-11 record, 9th position.
Brisbane Lions (12th: 7 wins/9 defeats, 82.4%)
Matches To Come: R18: Port Adelaide (AAMI Stadium), R19: St Kilda (Gabba), R20: Richmond (MCG), R21: GWS Giants (Gabba), R22: Western Bulldogs (Gabba), R23: Geelong (Kardinia Park).
Comment: Considered finished by certain sections of the media after round 11, Michael Voss and the Brisbane Lions have turned their fortunes around since the bye. They’ve won 4 out of 6 matches including wins their ‘miracle on grass’ triumph against Geelong. Pierce Hanley has had an All-Australian season while Simon Black and Jonathon Brown have continued to play good football while mentoring this young team. Dayne Zorko has also stepped up to become a vital midfielder/forward who can be relied on when the Lions need a spark.
The Run Home: Like the Crows and Eagles, Brisbane has to win every match to have any chance of making the finals. Looking at their draw, the Lions face three of the current bottom four at home (St Kilda, GWS and the Western Bulldogs) while facing three top 8 sides away (Port Adelaide, Richmond, Geelong). What will hurt Brisbane is their percentage which is dreadfully low compared to those above them. Brisbane therefore, needs a collapse of Steven Bradbury proportions by those above them on the ladder to make the finals.
Prediction: 3 wins/3 losses, 10-12 record, 12th position.