We’re at the business end of the season, and it’s been some season, with still 12 sides in with a chance of playing finals footy, albeit it is unlikely for some more than others.
All week, I’ve been playing around with the ladder predictor, and I’ve been working out the best outcomes for each side still with a chance of featuring in the Finals Series.
So, without further introduction, let’s break down the weekend’s games for the 12 sides still in finals contention and what a win and a loss might mean for your team.
1st – Melbourne (eight wins, one loss, 260.4 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Brisbane (A)
Best case scenario: Because Adelaide is 65 per cent lower than Melbourne, a win against the Lions away will secure them the top spot on the ladder. The Crows play the lowly Eagles, so expect them to leave no stone unturned as they’ll want to go top of the table, so if they can beat Brisbane and beat them well, they’ll secure the top spot.
Worst case scenario: A loss will likely consign the Demons to second and probably set themselves up for a home qualifying final against North Melbourne. Should the Crows lose to the Eagles, as unlikely as that might sound, the Demons will be the minor premiers.
2nd – Adelaide (eight wins, one loss, 196.3 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs West Coast (A)
Best case scenario: The Crows should account for the Eagles and account for them very thoroughly. They would have to rely on Melbourne either losing to or drawing with Brisbane. Even if Adelaide beats West Coast by 100 points or more, a Melbourne win by 10 points or more will see the Dees still take the top spot.
Worst case scenario: Well, the Crows can’t lose to the Eagles, can they? Should it happen, though, they cannot drop any lower than second, as they have a two-win gap between them and the third-placed Kangaroos.
3rd – North Melbourne (six wins, three losses, 207.4 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Western Bulldogs (A)
Best case scenario: North Melbourne cannot go any higher than third on the ladder, so a win will keep them where they currently sit in third. They will be looking on in anticipation to see if they get Adelaide or Melbourne in the first week of the finals.
Worst case scenario: North haven’t lost to the Bulldogs since they entered the competition, and I don’t see it changing this week. But we’ve seen strange things happen in football before. A loss to North Melbourne means they could fall out of the top four and should finish fifth, should Essendon defeat the Gold Coast and Brisbane beat Melbourne.
4th – Brisbane (six wins, three losses, 145.3 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Melbourne (H)
Best case scenario: With a win at home against Melbourne, the Lions would have to rely on North Melbourne to drop their game against the Bulldogs to move into third, but a win will likely see Brisbane finish the season in fourth and will set them up for a likely qualifying final showdown with Adelaide in South Australia.
Worst case scenario: The Lions lose this game and could slide down as far as sixth. That would rely on Geelong beating Hawthorn and if either Essendon or Gold Coast win their match-up. They could finish seventh if Sydney beat Fremantle by over 100 points.
5th – Essendon (six wins, three losses, 112.4 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Gold Coast (A)
Best case scenario: An Essendon win could see them jump into the top four, but that would have to rely on Brisbane losing to Melbourne. Should the Lions win, the Bombers will finish fifth and secure a home elimination final. But all signs point to a top-four finish for the first time this season.
Worst case scenario: A loss means they could miss finals altogether. They miss if Essendon lose by five goals or more, and three of Geelong, Sydney, St Kilda and Collingwood win their games. Should one of Sydney or St Kilda drop their games, the margins in the Collingwood/Richmond game and the Essendon/Gold Coast game could decide who takes the last spot in the eight.
6th – Gold Coast (five wins, three losses, one draw, 115.6 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Essendon (H)
Best case scenario: It would be a gutsy win without arguably their best player in Charlie Rowbottom. But a win against Essendon could likely propel the Suns into the top four. It would rely on Brisbane losing their game against Melbourne to make that happen, as the draw against Port will prove decisive, wherever the result falls.
Worst case scenario: The loss means the Suns could miss out on finals and finish as low as 10th. To stay in the top eight by the end of the round, they must rely on two of St Kilda, Collingwood, Sydney and Geelong to lose their match-ups and remain in the top eight. They could still finish with a home final if all of Geelong, St Kilda, Collingwood and Sydney lose.
7th – Geelong (five wins, four losses, 130.5 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Hawthorn (H)
Best case scenario: Geelong can’t finish in the top four, but they can finish as high as fifth and lock in a home elimination final if they can beat Hawthorn and Brisbane lose to Melbourne. Should the Lions beat the Demons on Saturday night, the Cats still look highly likely to lock in a home elimination final in sixth.
Worst case scenario: Should the Hawks cause an upset and beat Geelong in Geelong, the Cats will likely find themselves out of finals. They would have to rely on two of Sydney, Collingwood and St Kilda to drop their matches to stay in the eight.
8th – Sydney (five wins, four losses, 101.9 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Fremantle (A)
Best case scenario: Beat Fremantle, and it’s likely that the Swans will play finals. The only thing that stops the Swans from making finals if they win their match is if St Kilda and Collingwood blow apart their respective opposition by 40-50 points each, and the Swans only scrape in by a couple of goals.
The margins would be enough for the Pies and the Saints to jump the Swans into the top eight. If that is the case, the Swans will need to beat Fremantle by a sizeable margin, roughly around seven goals; then they will be in the top eight.
Worst case scenario: A loss at home to Fremantle will mean the Swans don’t play finals. If the Saints lose to Carlton and Collingwood lose to Richmond, the Swans will need Carlton to win by five goals or less to stay in the eight. Otherwise, a more significant margin means Carlton jumps into the eight.
9th – St Kilda (five wins, four losses, 97.1 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Carlton (A)
Best case scenario: The Saints must smash Carlton by 40 points or more and rely on Collingwood or Sydney to lose or win by small margins to progress to finals for the first time. If both Collingwood and Sydney win by small margins and Geelong lose to Hawthorn, the Saints could move as high as sixth and lock in a home elimination final.
Worst case scenario: A Carlton win means St Kilda will miss out on finals altogether and, pending on results, could slide down as low as 12th. That would rely on Carlton winning by 30 points or more and Richmond beating Collingwood by 20 points or fewer.
10th – Collingwood (five wins, four losses, 95 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Richmond (H)
Best case scenario: Collingwood must win and win big to secure finals. If the Saints lose to Carlton in the early Sunday game, a win will seal a spot in the eight for the Pies, regardless of the margin. But if the Saints do win, then the Pies will need to win by 40 points or more. They could lock in a home final and finish as high as sixth if they can win by seven goals or more, Geelong lose to Hawthorn, St Kilda win by 30 points or less, and Sydney win by 20 points or less.
Worst case scenario: A loss will put the Pies out of the finals and could finish as low as 13th if Richmond wins by 30 points or more, Carlton beats St Kilda by any margin, and Fremantle beats Sydney by 60 points or fewer.
11th – Carlton (four wins, five losses, 89.6 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs St Kilda (H)
Best case scenario: This will be very dependent on results. Carlton must beat St Kilda by 20 points or more and depend on Richmond to win by 30 points or less and Fremantle to win by 30 points or more. This will send Carlton into the top eight and finish eighth.
Worst case scenario: A loss will finish the Blues this season, and wins to Richmond and Fremantle could see them fall as far as 13th on the ladder.
12th – Richmond (four wins, five losses, 86.2 percentage) Round 10 opponent: vs Collingwood (A)
Best case scenario: They are the proverbial outsider in this race, but mathematically, they can still make it, but so much needs to happen. Richmond must beat Collingwood and beat them by 40 points or more, and Carlton must defeat St Kilda by 20 points or less and hope Fremantle can beat Sydney by 20 points or more and the Tigers can finish eighth with just a 0.2 per cent gap between them and the team that finishes in ninth.
Worst case scenario: If Collingwood comes out and puts in a solid performance and beats them by 30-40 points, then the Tigers will finish in 12th. If Fremantle can win against Sydney, Richmond will finish in 13th. Staggering to think this time last year, they finished inside the top four.
The (debatable) likely week one finals fixture
1st Qualifying Final
Melbourne (1st) vs Essendon (4th) – Ikon Park
2nd Qualifying Final
Adelaide (2nd) vs North Melbourne (3rd) – Norwood Oval
1st Elimination Final
Geelong (5th) vs Sydney (8th) – GMHBA Stadium
2nd Elimination Final
Brisbane (6th) vs Collingwood (7th) – Brighton Homes Arena
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