I know it’s cliche to say it these days, but the competition has never felt more even. Apart from the Lions at the bottom of the table, there are 17 teams capable of mixing it with anyone.
That all makes for a fun season, but who the hell knows what’s real at this stage.
Last week: 2
For the first time this season the Giants take top spot, which is a bit weird, because they barely scraped past the team currently placed 17th.
Last week: 1
The Crows give up the No.1 ranking after back-to-back losses. It was easy to write off the North loss as an aberration, but they way they were belted by Melbourne – at Adelaide Oval, no less – suggests some very real and exploitable flaws. As good as Rory Sloane is, no midfielder should be that important.
Last week: 4
It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was rather ugly, but the Eagles knocked over another highly rated opponent. Six wins from eight games has them very nicely positioned.
Last week: 6
Port’s average winning margin this season is better than 12 goals and their three losses are to the top three teams on the ladder (and in these rankings). I think they’re legit.
Last week: 3
An eight-point loss to the Eagles at Subiaco is more than respectable, and they’re still missing a good chunk of their best team, but at some point they need to put in a four-quarter effort. The Dogs’ goal kicking has been abominable – they’ve put up 67.96 since Round 3.
Last week: 7
The Saints have had nervous moments at home against a couple of lesser opponents this season – Carlton and Brisbane. Wins are wins though for a team whose primary goal is to qualify for finals.
Last week: 9
That’s the best win anyone has had this season. Totally shut down the Crows’ frightening transition game with a combination of relentless pressure and disciplined defenders. The mental strength required to stick to their plan and maintain the rage after the Crows got rolling in the second quarter might have been the most impressive part. And they did it all without gun forward Jesse Hogan.
Last week: 5
Alarm bells would be ringing for the Cats now. That’s three straight games conceding 100 or more points – they did so only twice in 2016.
Last week: 11
Won it, then lost it, then won it again. The Dockers have now won five of their past six games – though interestingly their percentage in that stretch is a touch over 104.
Last week: 8
Hard to find a single thing they did right in that final 30 seconds. If someone takes a huge pack mark, or kicks a miracle goal to beat you in the dying seconds, you can live with it. To have a player run out of a centre clearance into space and then hit a leading forward in space is unforgivable. Horrendous.
Last week: 14
Hard to know at this point of the season whether their win against the Cats says more about them or their opponents. Only a game out of the eight though. Why is it so weird to see Joe Daniher having fun? Good on him.
Last week: 16
Looked a lot like the Sydney we’ve known for the past decade or so. Beat the stuffing out of North when the ball was there to be won and then dominated possession. Midfield stars everywhere: Kennedy, Parker, Hannebery, Heeney… Newman?
Last week: 10
For the first time this season the Roos were uncompetitive.
Last week: 13
Took it up to St Kilda into the last quarter. Doing everything that could be asked of them at this stage of their development.
Last week: 15
Their first quarter against the Giants was brilliant. They dominated stoppages and moved the ball smartly and confidently in transition. What a frustrating team.
Last week: 12
I hope they enjoyed the trip.
Last week: 17
Beat the worst team in the comp by six goals – meh.
Last week: 18
It’s going to be tough for the Lions to get off the bottom of this list as well as the ladder. That’s OK as long as they can improve – someone has to finish last after all, it makes sense for it to be the youngest team in the competition.