AFL 1 year ago

The Run Home: Prediciting Your Club's Last Five Games Before The Finals

  • The Run Home: Prediciting Your Club's Last Five Games Before The Finals

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Tom Boyd of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal with Toby McLean of the Bulldogs during the 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

2017 - what a season of footy we are having. So many surprising results, unsuspecting moments and you really couldn't pick a premiership team right at this moment, that's how open the season has become this year.

As we approach the final five weeks of the season, we still have 12 teams are still in the hunt for a finals spot. Today on Bulldogs Centre, I go through the final five games from each team, from 1st to 12th, and at the end of the article there will be a predicted final eight, along with who I think will square off in the first week of Finals

1st - Adelaide: 13 Wins, 4 Losses, 139.9 percent

The Run Home (Team, Venue, Prediction)

Rd 19: Vs Collingwood (MCG) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Essendon (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Sydney (Adelaide Oval) - Loss
Rd 23: Vs West Coast (Domain Stadium) - Win

Their win over Geelong last Friday night has given Adelaide the box seat to the minor premiership. For the first three quarters, they were comprehensive in their dismantling of the Cats and, given how brilliantly they move the footy, face a decent run-home leading to the finals. Their second showdown of 2017 against Port Adelaide looms as a danger game, that and a meeting with the unquestionably in-form Sydney Swans.

Otherwise it's a reasonable run home, however they will have to travel to Melbourne twice and Perth before the bye. On current form, the Crows should take care of Collingwood, Essendon and West Coast. Winning four of the next five should sew up the minor premiership for the Crows for the first time since 2005.

After Round 23: 17 wins, 5 losses

2nd - Geelong: 11 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 115.5 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Carlton (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Sydney (Simonds Stadium) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Richmond (Simonds Stadium) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Collingwood (MCG) - Loss
Rd 23: Vs Greater Western Sydney (Simonds Stadium) - Win

Geelong don't have to travel again for the remainder of the home and away season, but still face some tough assignments. Should dispatch of the Blues, but face tough challenges in Sydney and Richmond in the next fortnight, however, both of those contests at Geelong's fortress that is Simonds Stadium. Win those two and they should lock themselves in a top-two spot.

Should they beat both the Swans and the Tigers, they could very much win all five of their games, however recent history against Collingwood means that Geelong have a very tough final month of footy before the Finals. - playing three of those four games against top-four contenders all at Simonds Stadium, including the GWS Giants. Geelong should sew up a top-four spot for the second-straight year.

After Round 23: 15 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw

3rd - Greater Western Sydney: 10 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws, 113.6 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Fremantle (Spotless Stadium) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Melbourne (Manuka Oval) - Loss
Rd 21: Vs Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 22: Vs West Coast (Spotless Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Geelong (Simonds Stadium) - Loss

With only one win from their past six games, the GWS Giants are in serious danger of missing the top four altogether after what has been a solid 2017 campaign from the preliminary finalists of last year. The Giants have to win games to avoid being overtaken by the likes of Richmond, Port, Sydney and Melbourne.

Their loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon makes their meeting against Fremantle more vital, not only should they beat the Dockers this weekend, they need to, as the final four months provide some mighty challenges. Melbourne in Canberra, Western Bulldogs at Etihad, West Coast at home and Geelong at Geelong - the Giants must win three of these four games to get the double chance.

After Round 23: 13 wins, 7 losses, 2 draws

4th - Richmond: 11 wins, 6 losses, 108.6 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Gold Coast (Metricon Stadium) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Hawthorn (MCG) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Geelong (Simonds Stadium) - Loss
Rd 22: Vs Fremantle (Domain Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs St. Kilda (MCG) - Loss

Richmond's win over the Giants on the weekend has propelled the Tigers into the top four - a game clear of Port Adelaide. There's going to be some very tough games ahead if the Tigers want the double chance this September. They should beat the Suns this weekend and if they're serious about top four, they'll smash them by 10 goals.

The next fortnight is massive for the Tigers and could spell where they finish inside the eight. They have good history against the Hawks and should beat them, whilst their match against Geelong will be a beauty and a real test to see where the Tigers are at, should they win both games then you can almost lock in a top four spot for the Tigers. Fremantle at Domain won't be easy, and it'll be interesting to see how the Tigers will respond from the shellacking the Saints gave them earlier this year.

After Round 23: 14 wins, 8 losses

5th - Port Adelaide: 10 wins, 7 losses, 132.1 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs St. Kilda (Adelaide Oval) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) - Loss
Rd 21: Vs Collingwood (Adelaide Oval) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Western Bulldogs (Mars Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Gold Coast (Adelaide Oval) - Win

Out of all the teams sitting outside the top four at the moment, the Power are the one side that will most likely snatch a top four spot if any of the sides falter at the end of the season. This is due to their ability to belt the weaker sides and a - fair to say - soft draw has enabled the Power to be in this position.

Four of their next five games are against teams outside the top eight and they only have to travel interstate just once before the end of the regular season. They play the Saints this weekend in a game they should win before playing the Crows in a second showdown. Port's inability to beat fellow flag contenders has been documented this year, so this contest looms as a very critical game. Win it and they should be in the top four, they should beat Collingwood and Gold Coast at home, and would have to beat the Bulldogs in Ballarat in an intriguing battle.

After Round 23: 14 wins, 8 losses

6th - Sydney Swans: 10 wins, 7 losses, 116 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Hawthorn (MCG) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Geelong (Simonds Stadium) - Loss
Rd 21: Vs Fremantle (SCG) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Carlton (SCG) - Win

What a comeback Sydney has produced in 2017. After starting the year 0-6, the Swans have won 10 of the next 11 games and their is without a doubt that they will be playing Finals this year. It's all a matter of where the Swans finish. They must beat Hawthorn on Friday night to keep some distance between themselves and the teams vying for a spot in the eight.

The final month of footy sees the Swans travelling to both Geelong and Adelaide to take on the Cats and the Crows respectively. They also play Fremantle and Carlton at the SCG, so the thought of them winning three of the last four looks the likely scenario, although I wouldn't count the Swans out of winning all five games to make a splash on the top four - that's how good their turnaround is going right now.

After Round 23: 14 wins, 8 losses

7th - Melbourne: 10 wins, 7 losses, 107.9 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs North Melbourne (Blundstone Arena) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Greater Western Sydney (Manuka Oval) - Win
Rd 21: Vs St. Kilda (MCG) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Brisbane (MCG) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Collingwood (MCG) - Win

Not only are Melbourne in good stead for their first appearance in the AFL Finals series since 2006, but they're eyeing a top-four spot. With four of the next five games are against teams outside the top four, and their last three games are all at the MCG, I could see Melbourne winning all five of their games and give the Finals a real shake in Simon Goodwin's first season as coach.

However their biggest threat is the back-to-back road trips the Demons have to endure. It starts with a trip to Hobart to play North Melbourne and then a trip to Canberra to play the out-of-form GWS Giants. If they can win those two, then there's every chance this side could fatigue hard against the Saints, but given how comprehensively Melbourne beat them earlier this year, should get the job done. they should get the two wins in the final fortnight, when they play Brisbane and Collingwood.

After Round 23: 15 wins, 7 losses

8th - Essendon: 9 wins, 8 losses, 109.7 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium) - Loss
Rd 20: Vs Carlton (MCG) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Adelaide (Etihad Stadium) - Loss
Rd 22: Vs Gold Coast (Metricon Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Fremantle (Etihad Stadium) - Win

Essendon have won their past three games and are on track to playing finals, with four of their next five games very winnable. It was just a month ago that this team blew a match-winning lead against Brisbane and people were questioning the legitimacy of this side, and despite a winning performance against North Melbourne that has left a lot of Bomber fans unimpressed last Saturday, the Bombers have a favourable run home.

Their game against the Bulldogs this Sunday looms as the game that could decide their season. Win this game and then it should be four wins from the final five games and almost a guaranteed a spot in the Finals, with games against Carlton, Gold Coast and Fremantle at Docklands still to come, as well as a game against Adelaide at Docklands. A loss to the Bulldogs makes their match against the ladder-leading Crows all the more important.

After Round 23: 12 wins, 10 losses

9th - West Coast: 9 wins, 8 losses, 101.4 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Brisbane (Domain Stadium) - Win
Rd 20: Vs St. Kilda (Etihad Stadium) - Loss
Rd 21: Vs Carlton (Domain Stadium) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Greater Western Sydney (Spotless Stadium) - Loss
Rd 23: Vs Adelaide (Domain Stadium) - Loss

West Coast are a very difficult team to assess. They have all the tools to be premiership contenders - they didn't make the 2015 Grand Final just to make up the numbers. But the fact that they struggle when they travel away from Domain Stadium is well documented and could very much decide their fate in 2017. They blew a four-goal lead to Collingwood on Sunday, and with that blew a lot of premiership credibility.

Two of the next three weeks see the Eagles play two of the bottom three sides at Domain Stadium - games that they have to win, with an away trip to Etihad Stadium to play the Saints in between those two games. This is a massive game for both sides and could very much be an Elimination Final-feel to the contest. If the Eagles win these three, they need to beat at least one of GWS and Adelaide in the final fortnight to be given a chance.

After Round 23: 11 wins, 11 losses

10th - Western Bulldogs: 9 wins, 8 losses, 98.2 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Essendon (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 20: Vs Brisbane (Gabba) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Greater Western Sydney (Etihad Stadium) - Loss
Rd 22: Vs Port Adelaide (Mars Stadium) - Loss
Rd 23: Vs Hawthorn (Etihad Stadium) - Loss

Despite securing back-to-back wins against Carlton and Gold Coast, the Bulldogs are still staring at the face of being the first team to miss finals after winning the premiership the previous year since Hawthorn in 2009. Sunday's game against the Bombers is a must-win in the context of the respective seasons of both teams. Win this game and the Bulldogs are still in with a chance. 

They should beat Brisbane at the Gabba, but even that's without conviction - the Dogs haven't beaten Brisbane in Brisbane since 2009. GWS and Port Adelaide loom as the massive challenges if the Dogs are to come back to September this year to defend their crown. Four wins in the next five games, with some luck should get them there, but given their patchy form throughout the year, it sounds extremely unlikely that they will even make it to defend their crown.

After Round 23: 11 wins, 11 losses

11th - St. Kilda: 9 wins, 8 losses, 96.7 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) - Loss
Rd 20: Vs West Coast (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 21: Vs Melbourne (MCG) - Loss
Rd 22: Vs North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Richmond (MCG) - Win

The Saints have been very up and down all throughout 2017 and back-to-back losses have come at the worst possible time. Unless they can regain that form that got them an upset victory over GWS and that form that dismantled Richmond just a couple of weeks ago, this team face an uphill battle to play finals for the first time since 2011.

This weekend, St. Kilda travel to South Australia to play Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, a venue in which the Saints have yet to register a win. They also have a tough ask against Melbourne in round 21, after the Dees got them at the start of the year. They must and should beat North Melbourne and West Coast at Etihad Stadium, and I'm confident the Saints can rediscover their mojo against Richmond.

After Round 23: 12 wins, 10 losses

12th - Hawthorn: 7 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw, 88 percent

The Run Home

Rd 19: Vs Sydney (MCG) - Loss
Rd 20: Vs Richmond (MCG) - Loss
Rd 21: Vs North Melbourne (University of Tasmania Stadium) - Win
Rd 22: Vs Carlton (Etihad Stadium) - Win
Rd 23: Vs Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium) - Win

Who would've guessed six weeks into the season, that we would still be talking about Hawthorn's finals chances? They need to win the next five games and hope that other results will fall in their favour. If Alastair Clarkson can get the Hawks to the finals from here, it would just be another reason as to why he is one of the greatest coach in the modern era.

The next fortnight will dictate the direction the Hawks are heading, with tough assignments against Sydney and Richmond at the MCG. Beat them both and they are still in with a huge chance, one loss and. They should beat North Melbourne and Carlton and would fancy themselves against the Western Bulldogs in what could be champion Luke Hodge's final game.

After Round 23: 10 wins, 11 losses, 1 draw

Predicted Final 8

1st: Adelaide
2nd: Geelong
3rd: Melbourne
4th: Port Adelaide
5th: Sydney
6th: GWS Giants
7th: Richmond
8th: Essendon

Which Means Come First Week...

1st Qualifying Final
Adelaide vs Port Adelaide - Adelaide Oval

2nd Qualifying Final
Geelong vs Melbourne - MCG

1st Elimination Final
Sydney vs Essendon - SCG

2nd Elimination Final
GWS Giants vs Richmond - Spotless Stadium

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