With seven rounds of the AFL season remaining, I preview each team’s chances of either finishing with the double chance, making the finals or avoiding the wooden spoon.
In part I, I previewed each of the teams currently in the top eight and the chances they had of ultimately finishing in the top eight.
Here, in part II, I will preview the teams still with an outside chance of making the finals, as well as those fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.
Currently 9th (7 wins, 8 losses)
Matches to play: North Melbourne (away), Gold Coast (away), Fremantle (home), Western Bulldogs (home), Richmond (away), Essendon (home), Port Adelaide (away)
Predicted finish: 9th
It has been a disappointing year for not just the Blues this season, but also its supporters, as they try to adjust to the strict coaching style of Mick Malthouse.
Looking at their run to the end of the season, it’s fair to say that the Blues won’t make up enough ground to make the finals this season.
The Blues have a very tough final seven rounds, as they face North Melbourne, the Gold Coast (who beat them in the penultimate round last year), Fremantle, Richmond and Essendon in that period.
Should the Blues, however, still remain in finals calculations by the final round, then their trip to Adelaide, where they will face the Power, could decide which of the two teams claims a finals berth.
West Coast Eagles
Currently 10th (7 wins, 8 losses)
Matches to play: Sydney Swans (home), Western Bulldogs (away), Gold Coast (home), Essendon (away), Geelong Cats (home), Collingwood (away), Adelaide (home)
Predicted finish: 10th
West Coast have had a disappointing season thus far and it could get worse as they face the Sydney Swans this weekend, a team they have not beaten since 2007.
After that, they must travel to Melbourne for its remaining fixtures away from Perth, this includes matches against the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Collingwood.
The only winnable fixtures I see for the club are those against the Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and Adelaide, and unless the Eagles can sneak in a victory against any of the others, I can’t see the club featuring in September this year.
John Worsfold knows he’s under the pump so it’s time for the Eagles to start performing, starting with this weekend’s showdown against the Sydney Swans at home.
Currently 11th (6 wins, 9 losses)
Matches to play: Carlton (home), Melbourne (home), Geelong Cats (home), Adelaide (away), Essendon (away), Hawthorn (home), Collingwood (away)
Predicted finish: 13th
It has no doubt been a very frustrating season for North Melbourne and their loyal supporters.
Last week the Roos once again let slip a good lead to lose to the Brisbane Lions – the seventh time they’ve either lost a good lead or lost by less than a kick.
Imagine if the Roos had won all seven of those matches – they could so easily have been in the top four right now.
Instead, they are fighting not only against themselves, but also to try to remain in finals contention.
The only victory that is guaranteed is against Melbourne – as for the others, the Roos will have to hope that luck falls their way.
Currently 12th (6 wins, 9 losses)
Matches to play: Geelong Cats (home), Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide (home), North Melbourne (home), Western Bulldogs (away), Melbourne (home), West Coast (away)
Predicted finish: 11th
Another team that has disappointed this season are the Adelaide Crows.
Surely, the departure of Kurt Tippett hasn’t helped, but what should help Brenton Sanderson’s men try to salvage something from a tough season is the return this week of assistant coach Dean Bailey, who has served his 16-round suspension for his role in Melbourne’s tanking scandal.
But even so, the Crows have a very tough run home – they face the Cats and Dockers in the next fortnight, as well as an improved Port Adelaide and then a very desperate North Melbourne.
The match against North Melbourne could also decide who remains in finals contention and who drops out of it.
Winnable matches against the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne follow, and then a final round trip to Perth to face the West Coast Eagles.
Currently 13th (6 wins, 9 losses)
Matches to play: Melbourne (away), Port Adelaide (away), St Kilda (home), Richmond (away), GWS Giants (home), Western Bulldogs (home), Geelong Cats (away)
Predicted finish: 12th
The Lions are coming off back-to-back victories for the first time this season and they have the chance to build on that momentum with what should be a series of winnable matches in the next few weeks.
Victories against Melbourne, St Kilda, GWS and the Western Bulldogs should be guaranteed, but in the midst of that they do have tough trips to Adelaide to face the Power and to Melbourne to face a resurgent Richmond.
Their season will end with a trip to Geelong to face the Cats, but even if the Lions win most of their remainders, it might not be enough for them to reach the top eight.
They must, though, hope that their main rivals slip up whilst at the same time try to remain in finals contention themselves.
Gold Coast Suns
Currently 14th (5 wins, 10 losses)
Matches to play: Collingwood (home), Carlton (home), West Coast (away), Melbourne (home), Port Adelaide (away), St Kilda (away), GWS Giants (home)
Predicted finish: 14th
For all the Suns’ improvement so far this season, finals may have to wait for another year as they try to avoid dropping back into the bottom four.
The Suns won’t be expected to win all of their remaining matches, but they do have what appears to be two winnable home fixtures against Melbourne and the GWS Giants.
Those should deliver the Suns their best season in the AFL, which would combine their last two seasons (three wins each) into their most successful year thus far.
Currently 15th (4 wins, 11 losses)
Matches to play: Hawthorn (away), West Coast (home), Sydney Swans (home), Carlton (away), Adelaide (home), Brisbane Lions (away), Melbourne (home)
Predicted finish: 15th
Of all the teams fighting to avoid last place, the Western Bulldogs face the biggest nightmare of them all; with the exception of their final round match against Melbourne, all of them appear unwinnable.
If anything, the final seven weeks will brutally expose the Western Bulldogs’ need to rebuild, but they should be lucky enough to finish only ahead of St Kilda, Melbourne and the GWS Giants on the ladder.
For now, the Bulldogs can only hope to sneak in an upset in their next six matches before their final round showdown against fellow cellar-dwellers Melbourne.
Currently 16th (3 wins, 12 losses)
Matches to play: Port Adelaide (home), Geelong Cats (away), Brisbane Lions (away), Hawthorn (home), Sydney Swans (away), Gold Coast (home), Fremantle (home)
Predicted finish: 16th
The Saints are headed for their worst season since the turn of the century and their draw all but vindicates that.
A nightmare final seven rounds sees them head down the Cattery for its first match there since 2004, after which they fly up to Brisbane to face the Lions at the Gabba.
Back-to-back matches against last year’s Grand Finalists follow, before their season winds down with a pair of home matches against the Gold Coast Suns and Fremantle.
It seems the Saints cannot wait for this season to finish, already.
Currently 17th (2 wins, 13 losses)
Matches to play: Brisbane Lions (home), North Melbourne (home), GWS Giants (away), Gold Coast (away), Fremantle (home), Adelaide (away), Western Bulldogs (away)
Predicted finish: 17th
All of the improvement that Melbourne had shown under Neil Craig went down the sink in an expected dismal performance against Geelong last week.
Looking at the draw, you could point out that the Dees have an easy fortnight ahead which sees them face the Giants and Suns back-to-back, but they aren’t as easy as you think it might be.
GWS led them by 19 points at three-quarter-time in their last meeting before Melbourne overran them, whilst the Suns embarrassed them at the MCG back in Round 7.
But if anything, the Dees could finish the season with a second victory over the Western Bulldogs, the only Victorian team that the Dees have beaten all season.
Currently last (0 wins, 15 losses)
Matches to play: Essendon (home), Collingwood (away), Melbourne (home), Fremantle (away), Brisbane Lions (away), Richmond (home), Gold Coast (away)
Predicted finish: last
Another team that can’t wait for this season to finish are the young and tired GWS Giants.
Just like the Suns before them, the Giants are enduring the dreaded second-year syndrome, but in all this wreckage there is some light.
Jeremy Cameron is leading their goal-kicking and was within a few goals of leading the Coleman Medal tally.
But looking at their run home, and the next fortnight in particular, it is a real nightmare.
They also have to travel to Perth and Brisbane in consecutive weeks, and as well having to travel to Queensland twice in the final three weeks (including the first trip to face the Brisbane Lions).
That could all combine for the first winless season by any side since Fitzroy in 1964.