How each club will fare in final rounds – and who could make the eight

We've only just come up for air after 20 days straight of football. But with only six rounds left of football, we're closer to seeing who will make something of the strangest season we've ever seen.

Who will earn a double chance, who will sneak into the eight? If Sam McClure's predictions are anything to go by, percentage could play a crucial role …

Carlton are one of the teams battling to make the eight this season and the stats say they have the easiest run home.Credit:Getty Images

The run home

Who does your team play, and what can you expect from their final games?

Port Adelaide
Hawthorn (AO), Sydney (AO), Bye, North Melbourne (MS), Essendon (AO), Collingwood (TBC)
Many pundits have been waiting for balloon to burst at Port Adelaide, but they just keep answering each challenge. They have at least three more games at home – all against teams outside the eight – and should stay top of the ladder.
Predicted finish: 1st

Brisbane Lions
St Kilda (G), Collingwood (G), Gold Coast (G), Sydney (CS), Carlton (TBC)
The Lions shouldn't lose another game, with their clash against St Kilda in round 13 shaping as crucial. Percentage could decide whether they earn a home qualifying final.
Predicted finish: 3rd

Percentage is likely to have a big impact on Brisbane’s chances of a home final.Credit:Getty Images

Geelong
Adelaide (AO), Western Bulldog (MS), Essendon (G), Richmond (MS), Sydney (TBC)
Three of the Cats' final five games are against bottom-eight teams and they'll start favourites against the Western Bulldogs. Look a shoo-in to finish top four.
Predicted finish: 4th

West Coast
GWS (OS), Richmond (MS), Essendon (G), Western Bulldogs (MS), St Kilda (G), North Melbourne (TBC)
The Eagles are coming off seven wins in a row and will start favourite in all of their last five games, but still face teams who could be fighting for a spot in the eight. Win all five and they should finish equal top with Port. Percentage in their final game, against North, might be crucial.
Predicted finish: 2nd

St Kilda
Brisbane (G), Melbourne (TP), Hawthorn (MS), West Coast (G), GWS (TBC)
We're about to find out what the Saints are really made of. Will likely go in underdogs against both Brisbane and West Coast and the Melbourne game is 50/50. The way this season is going, they could win four of their last five – or lose them. Pencil in a win against Hawthorn.
Predicted finish: 6th

Richmond
Essendon (TIO), West Coast (MS), Fremantle (MS), Geelong (MS), Adelaide (TBC)
The Tigers have bankable wins against Fremantle and Adelaide, and 10 and a half wins should put them inside the eight comfortably enough. A win against either West Coast or Geelong could mean the Tigers earn a home final but a top-four finish is a big ask from here.
Predicted finish: 7th

Collingwood
North Melbourne (G), Carlton (G), Brisbane (G), Gold Coast (G), Port Adelaide (TBC)
With the Magpies slowly getting players back from injury, it's the games against Carlton and Gold Coast that appear crucial in their quest for finals. Win both and that might be enough to scrape into the eight.
Predicted finish: 10th

Collingwood’s matches against Carlton and Gold Coast are likely to decide their finals fate.Credit:Getty Images

Melbourne
Western Bulldogs (MS), St Kilda (TP), Sydney (CS), Fremantle (CS), GWS (G), Essendon (TBC)
With a relatively friendly run home, the Demons should start favourites in at least four of their final six matches. Even if they lose to the Saints in round 14, Simon Goodwin's team should play finals and could even host an elimination final.
Predicted finish: 5th

GWS
West Coast (OS), Fremantle (OS), Carlton (MS), Adelaide (AO), Melbourne (G), St Kilda (TBC)
How can you possibly trust GWS to beat anyone after what they displayed against Sydney? Even so, there's too much talent in this team not to account for Fremantle and Adelaide. The Carlton game shapes as crucial and if they beat the Blues, their round 18 game against St Kilda could be for a finals spot.
Predicted finish: 9th

GWS could miss finals after making the grand final last year.Credit:Getty Images

Western Bulldogs
Melbourne (MS),Geelong (MS), West Coast (MS), Hawthorn (AO), Fremantle (TBC)
Despite dispatching the Crows on the weekend, it's hard to find a win for the Bulldogs in their next three games. Melbourne have won their last three games by 50+ points, Geelong are dominating and West Coast have won seven on the trot. Looks like they've left their run a bit late.
Predicted finish: 11th

Essendon
Hawthorn (AO), West Coast (G), Geelong (G), Port Adelaide (AO), Melbourne TBC
The Bombers have been incredibly unlucky with their run of injuries. They should easily account for Hawthorn this week but will go in as underdogs in their final four games. Even with an upset (or two), it's hard to make a case for them playing finals this year.
Predicted finish: 13th

Carlton
Gold Coast (TIO), Collingwood (G), Giants (MS), Sydney (MS), Adelaide (MS), Brisbane (TBC)
Although they sit 12th on the ladder, the Blues have a pretty healthy percentage and that may be vital come the final rounds. Will probably have to win two of their next three but should get Jack Martin and Mitch McGovern back during that time. Should be knocking on the door.
Predicted finish: 8th

Gold Coast
Carlton (TIO), North Melbourne (MS), Brisbane (G), Collingwood (G), Hawthorn (TBC)
After a classy first half against Richmond, they fell away in the second half and the question has to be asked; how much is left in the tank? Should beat North and Hawthorn but hard to make a case for them climbing up the ladder.
Predicted finish: 13th

Fremantle
Sydney (OS) GWS (OS), Richmond (MS), Melbourne (CS), North Melbourne (MS), Western Bulldogs (TBC)
Jack Newnes probably ended any faint hope the Dockers had of playing finals in 2020. Would have to win almost all remaining six games and even then they're no certainty. Should finish on six wins in Justin Longmuir's first season.
Predicted finish: 14th

Sydney
Fremantle (OS), Port Adelaide (AO), Melbourne (CS), Carlton (MS), Brisbane (CS), Geelong (TBC)
A win against Fremantle would make it two impressive victories on the trot for John Longmire's young side. But an ominous trip to Adelaide to take on Port could all but end their season. Not many had them finals contenders at the beginning of the season and they've unearthed some impressive youngsters.
Predicted finish: 15th

Hawthorn
Port Adelaide (AO), Essendon (AO), Adelaide (AO), St Kilda (MS), Western Bulldogs (AO), Gold Coast (TBC)
An ACL injury to arguably their most important player in James Sicily is salt in the wound for frustrated Hawthorn fans. It's conceivable they don't win another game, with an Adelaide Oval clash against the Crows looming as their best chance. The Hawks should have their first top-five pick in the draft in a very long time.
Predicted finish: 16th

North Melbourne
Collingwood (G), Gold Coast (MS), Port Adelaide (MS), Fremantle (MS), West Coast (TBC)
After winning their first two games of the season, North have managed just one win in their last nine. They'll give themselves a chance against Collingwood, Gold Coast and Fremantle but 2021 can't come quickly enough for Rhyce Shaw.
Predicted finish: 17th

Adelaide
Geelong (AO), Hawthorn (AO), GWS (AO), Carlton (MS), Richmond (TBC)
Not many would've predicted Adelaide playing finals in 2020, but even fewer would have had them winless after 12 games. Matthew Nicks' side has shown glimpses throughout the season, but never for four quarters. A home game against a struggling Hawthorn side without James Sicily will be their best chance to break the drought.
Predicted finish: 18th

The games that could shape the eight

There are nine games of the remaining fixtures that could have a very big say on the make-up of the eight. From "eight-point" games to meetings between old enemies, these are the games that are set to have the biggest impact in the run home.

Round 13: Brisbane Lions v St Kilda (G)
This could be the difference between making the top four and not for the Saints, who have a tricky run home. Hard to go past the Lions at the Gabba.

Round 14: Richmond v West Coast (MS)
A genuine eight-point game. An Eagles win will edge them closer to a top-two finish, but a Richmond victory could see the Tigers earn a "home" final. Won't find too many tipping against West Coast right now.

Round 14: Melbourne v St Kilda (TP)
The Demons have a shocking record against St Kilda, having beaten them just three times since 2007. Will the madness of 2020 outweigh the history books? This game is likely to decide who finishes higher on the ladder.

St Kilda have had the Dees’ measure for a long time.Credit:Getty Images

Round 14: Carlton v Collingwood (G)
Imagine the hype around this game if it was at the MCG? Two famous rivals looking to potentially end each other's season. It's a toss of the coin right now, but the Blues have been in better form.

Round 15: GWS v Carlton (MS)
The Giants have only lost to Carlton once since 2014 and have won the last two contests by a combined 198 points. It's another 50/50 contest and it could decide who finishes eighth and ninth.

Round 17: St Kilda v West Coast (G)
They're currently fifth and fourth, respectively, and both teams should be around the mark by round 17. The Saints have been in terrific form but another top-four team in Geelong recently put them to the sword. It would take a brave person to tip against the Eagles.

Round 17: Geelong v Richmond (MS)
This will be a replay of last year's preliminary final and Richmond could still be in the hunt to make the top four. Tom Hawkins against a raw Noah Balta could be a fascinating duel, but the Cats will start warm favourites.

Geelong and Richmond will meet in a preliminary final rematch that will have implications on the make-up of the eight.Credit:Getty Images

Round 17: GWS v Melbourne (G)
Another must-win for the Giants as they try to make up for an awful start to the season. But unlike GWS, the Demons have started to hit their straps. Simon Goodwin's team should be trying to cement a home final by this stage and should be winning.

Round 18: St Kilda v GWS (TBC)
With Carlton facing a tough final game against Brisbane, GWS could ultimately need to beat the Saints to play finals. By the same token, St Kilda may need a win and percentage to sneak into the top four or cement a "home" final. Saints could put the final nail in the Giants' coffin.

Who has the easiest run home by the numbers?

Champion Data has crunched the numbers on the remaining games of the season and this is the verdict: the Blues have the easiest final stretch, while the Western Bulldogs have the toughest run.

Champion Data uses a system based on Pythagorean wins that is essentially how like you are to win against an average team. For example: Adelaide is the easiest team to play because they would only win nine per cent of their games against average teams. So playing Adelaide is worth 91 per cent of a win.

Here, teams are ranked in order of most predicted wins to least.

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