A form guide of the AFL flag contenders


HAWTHORN (1st, 11 wins 3 losses, 119.6%)

To come: Port Adelaide (away), Sydney (away), Richmond (away), Carlton (home), Melbourne (away), North Melbourne (home), West Coast (away), Collingwood (home)

Against top eight teams: 3

Predicted finish: 2nd (18 wins 4 losses)

Premiership odds: $5.25

Allegedly a shadow of the Hawks outfits who have won the past three flags yet they’re in top spot and well positioned for a top-two finish and an initial home final – but a lowly percentage is worrisome. Still boast a hard-edge midfield, a superb defence and multi-pronged attack. And their ability to win big games is legendary.

GEELONG; (2nd, 10-4, 139.2%)

To come: Sydney (home), Fremantle (away), Adelaide (home), Western Bulldogs (home), Essendon (home), Richmond (away), Brisbane (away), Melbourne (home)

Against top eight teams: 3

Predicted finish: 1st (18-4)

Premiership odds: $4.25

Flag favourites who have dates with three other top-eight sides but, crucially, all are at home where they rarely lose. Will bolster their already-healthy percentage in the final four rounds, which should be enough to secure top spot. Possess the vaunted midfield combination of Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield, and an experienced defence ranked third in the league for scores against.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (3rd, 10-4, 138.6%)

To come: Collingwood (home), Brisbane (away), Port Adelaide (away), Richmond (home), Gold Coast (away), West Coast (home), Fremantle (home), North Melbourne (away)

Against top eight teams: 2

Predicted finish: 3rd (17-5)

Premiership odds: $6.00

A top-four finish and a double-chance beckons in a maiden finals campaign for the Giants. Have plenty of attacking options, are the second-highest scoring club this season, and have the second-best percentage. But the great unknown is: will their lack of finals experience count against them in September?

SYDNEY (4th, 10-4, 137%)

To come: Geelong (away), Hawthorn (home), Carlton (home), Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide (home), St Kilda (away), North Melbourne (away), Richmond (home)

Against top eight teams: 3

Predicted finish: 5th (17-5)

Premiership odds: $6.00

Face two telling weeks with fixtures against the Cats and then Hawthorn. And while Lance Franklin headlines their attack, it is defence which gets the job done for the Swans: they have conceded the least points of any club (average score against is 70.2 points). The second-lowest scorers in the top eight, and prospects of a top-four finish could come down to percentage.

ADELAIDE (5th, 10-4, 128.6%)

To come: Carlton (away), Collingwood (home), Geelong (away), Essendon (home), Brisbane (home), Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide (away), West Coast (home)

Against top eight teams: 2

Predicted finish: 4th (17-5)

Premiership odds: $7.00

The highest-scoring side in the competition, averaging 113 points a game. And the Crows can expect a whopping percentage boost in the run home with games against Essendon and Brisbane, both at home, and Fremantle away. Meet just one top-eight side before the last round when they host West Coast in a match likely to decide their top-four status.

WESTERN BULLDOGS (6th, 10-4, 118.6%)

To come: Richmond (home), Gold Coast (home), St Kilda (home), Geelong (away), North Melbourne (home), Collingwood (home), Essendon (away), Fremantle (away)

Against top eight teams: 2

Predicted finish: 6th (17-5)

Premiership odds: $10.00

The Dogs’ top-four hopes will be decided with back-to-back challenges against Geelong and North Melbourne from round 18. Their reputation as a freewheeling side is a myth: they’re the lowest-scoring side in the top eight. But they are ranked the best defensive unit and are ranked second behind Sydney for winning contested ball.

NORTH MELBOURNE (7th, 10-4, 116.6%)

To come: West Coast (away), Port Adelaide (home), Collingwood (away), St Kilda (home), Western Bulldogs (away), Hawthorn (away), Sydney (away), GWS (home)

Against top eight teams: 5

Predicted finish: 8th (14-8)

Premiership odds: $15.00

The early pacesetters have slipped with four losses in their past five matches – and all those defeats have been against fellow top-eight sides. Have the lowest percentage of any side in the eight and also have the toughest run home: they meet five fellow finalists, and their last four games before the playoffs are all against sides currently above it on the ladder.

WEST COAST (8th, 9-5, 134.8%)

To come: North Melbourne (home), Carlton (away), Melbourne (home), Collingwood (away), Fremantle (away), GWS (away), Hawthorn (home), Adelaide (away)

Against top eight teams: 4

Predicted finish: 7th (14-8)

Last year’s beaten grand finalists may struggle to make an imprint on the finals, given they battle to win on the road – and will likely face an away elimination final in week one of the playoffs. But the Eagles do possess a blue-chip attack and are ranked second for marks inside the attacking 50m arc.

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