Essendon 5-6 9th
Essendon have been an interesting side this year. They've beaten quality (well perceived quality) sides like the Doggies, St Kilda and Carlton but they lost to peers like Port Adelaide and Sydney, and even dropped a game to West Coast who are in the rung below. They are super reliant on Hille and Ryder (which is sad in its own right) as well as a quick by unreliable midfield that is ably supported by arguably their best player who is neither, in Watson. Their forward line is variable and in their recent 3 game winning streak it relied on the two ruckman kicking goals. Their backline is OK without being anything more than that. It sorely has missed having the combination of Hooker and Pears being available at the same time. I just don't see the talent or depth for this side doing anything much this year. Perhaps they have talent to develop, but really they seem to rely on too few.
They've won 5, but that's on the back of a 3 game winning streak. It was pretty dire before then when they were 2-5. Frankly that is probably more indicative of where they are as a team. They limped into the 8 last year on 10 wins, not even a positive record, and solely on the back of Matty Lloyd's hit on Sewell. That was THE reason they won that game. This year they have gone backwards, but there has been promise. Gumbleton has shown glimpses, as have a few of their younger unhearalded sorts like Hocking. But they just don't seem to have the talent.
I would be very surprised if they threatened the 8 and with games against Geelong and Hawthorn without Hille, I think they will be facing a big challenge. I suspect they'll be in the 11th-14th range by the end of the season.