Sadly we already know who is in both groups of 8, so really who cares? Those out of the 8 want to end the season on a good note and those in, want to consolidate (or find) some form. So what's going to happen?
Fremantle v Carlton - Should be a cracker! Freo have a host of returning stars and best 22 players, and Carlton have..er..Judd. Its at Subi which is a massive bonus, to Freo, but their form isn't flash. They've lost their last 3 and are only 2 wins from their last 7. It aint a great formline folks. The Blues have also had their troubles, but at least are 3 from 5 and one of those loses was to the Cats, so no shame there. The Blues actually have a good record at subi in recent time with 3 wins from their last 3 games (before that it was 11 loses straight, but they were pretty crap back then). So who to tip? Bringing in as many as Freo have would be unsettling, but its essentially like a bye for those they are bringing in. I expect the Dockers to reverse their fortunes and win in a close one. Freo by 12. Upset chance 45%
Geelong v West Coast - I'm not wasting my time. Cats by 89. Upset chance 0.00003%
Hawthorn v Collingwood - Huge game for the Hawks. If they win they stay alive for the home final (see below) and probably more importantly, give themselves a massive shot of confidence. The Pies, well, its a bit meaningless. It would be good for them to smash a "challenger" and confirm their status as pretenders, and it would be good to get back to their normal ways after that shocker last week, but really it means little. Ultimately the thing that decided this match (yes I am aware of tense) is that Hodge is out. The Pies, by 27. Upset chance 40%
Adelaide v St Kilda - Its in Adelaide, but...well... Adelaide aren't really that good and the Saints are finding some form. For me the Saints are coming into the sort of form that makes them almost as good a chance as the Pies (and Cats) to win the Flag. Adelaide has a lot of kids but I can't see them beating the Saints. Saints by 34 upset chance 20%
Brisbane v Sydney - Really interesting match and one of the four that shape the bottom half of the 8. Can Brisbane lift again for a home game? Based on their performance last week they should really challenge, except Brown is out. However Sydney, since losing to the Cats (no shame), have looked a different side, except Mumford is out. With 3 wins over finals teams (Hawks, Freo and Dogs). Interestingly two of those were at the SCG which they own and also against teams (at the time of playing them) that were going through bad form. So its hard to gauge where they are at. They don't play against the Lions well either, having a 2 - 1 - 7 record in their last 10, although they beat the Lions last time at the Gabba in 2009. Tough tip. I'm going Sydney based on form and quality of opponent they beat. But the Lions wouldn't surprise with a win. Swans by 21, upset chance 40%
Dogs v Essendon - Dogs seem to be falling at every hurdle now. First Cooney, now Morris, both gone for the season. Not only that but their form stinks. Essendon have nothing to play for. they showed that last week. Didn't play for themselves, or the coach. I read an article today that said that the thing that may save Knights is the lack of people to take the job. What a lot of rubbish! There are plenty of good assistants out there and a couple of wily old vets too. Dogs have everything to play for the Dons nothing, yet personnel changes to both teams make me tip what some would say is an upset. Bombers by 5, upset chance 49%.
EDIT - I just saw Watson is out for the Bombers..missed that last night...so my tip is now Dogs by 20, upset chance 40%
Tigers v Port - The Tigers looked to have run out of puff but were admirable in defeat last week and Port seem to have found a second wind under Primus. But the Tigers have a good recent record (winning 2 of their last 3 and both at AAMI no less!) and it is in Melbourne. Its a toss of the coin and who knows which side will show up to represent their respective teams. Form says Port, I say Tigers by 34, upset chance 49%
Melbourne v North - Both sides really have had fairytale seasons, both surpassing expectations. This is match that could be part of a rivalry that extends into the next 5 years. Both have exciting young lists, topped with some excellent experienced players.Form is a tricky one too. Melbourne has lost its last 2 but won the 4 before that and North is on even pegging over the last 6. The clincher for me was North's excellent win last week (against a crap side but at Subi) and North has won the last 7 in a row. Roos by 27, upset chance 35%
Below is a graphic that shows the outcomes of results that impact the the bottom half of the 8
My tips lead to the 'Likely' scenario in the last column.
So if that happens what do we see in the first week of the finals?
Pies v Dogs
Cats v Saints
Swans v Blues
Freo v Hawks
Makes for a very interesting first week!