With six rounds remaining, including this weekend, the race for finals spots will continue to heat up this weekend.
As I continue my look at the future of AFL clubs and their distance from success we have now worked our way through to Carlton.
Currently: third. Ten wins, three losses, and one draw. 138.1 percent.
At the beginning of season 2011, Carlton were seen as a side that would be making up the numbers come September.
Jump ahead to July and the Blues must have missed the memo, with only three losses to their name.
For the third year the Blues took on Richmond in the opening round, inflicting a big loss one the Tigers.
In round two they became the Gold Coast Suns’ first opponents, putting the new boys to the sword with a 120-point thumping.
In their next two outings, Collingwood handed Carlton their first loss for the year, which was followed by a tightly contested draw with Essendon.
It was a solid start to the year for the Blues after the first month, but they then managed to hit fine form, winning seven out of their next eight games, only going down to Geelong in round nine by two points.
Big wins in the following month over Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney (for the first time in 21 years at the SCG) all helped to boost the Blues’ position.
After consolidating their position, the loss last weekend to West Coast at Paterson’s Stadium would have come as a shock to many, with the Blues going down by 36 points.
Richmond were once again on the bank end of a big defeat at the hands of the Blues this week, going down by 103 points as Carlton ran wild with 17 goals in the second half and a midfield that looked as controlling as ever.
Brett Ratten must have been pleased watching Kruezer palm down to Judd and Jamieson as all three players have hit their straps in the past month of football.
Carlton have set themselves up to charge home at a top four birth, five of their last eight games coming against sides currently outside the top eight.
They also only travel outside Victoria once more for the season, when in Round 21 they take on Fremantle over at Patersons Stadium.
A bye in Round 23 will prove handy before their final home and away game against St Kilda.
Prediction: 4th. 17 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw. 129.8 percent.
Expect to see the Blues go deep into September in 2011, they have managed elimination finals in the last three seasons.
This year is one for them to take the next step as they will secure a double chance, most likely taking on Geelong.
If they lose that, they secure a home final possibly against one of the interstate sides (Fremantle or Sydney Swans), giving them the chance to push for a preliminary final.
Anything could happen in the two most important games of the year.
Looking to next year, the Blues’ midfield is set in stone. With Kruezer back they boast one of the best ruck combinations in the competition, and the rest of the centre line accompanies just as well.
Judd is once again in Brownlow form, expect him to lead from the front for years to come.
The forward line was a big talking point over the summer, but Carlton have proven without a key forward they can still kick winning scores, and in the process secured Walker who has many years up forward to become the next big thing in the league.
Backline deficiencies haven’t become an issue for the Blues, although it seems to be more of a management and match-up issue rather than the lack of playing stocks to tackle opposition forwards.
Brett Ratten needs to make the most of their run off half-back which has been crucial to success over the last few seasons.
He needs to continue picking up running types who can play that quarterback role, and in doing so will show Blues fans their exciting game style which is here to stay.
Premiership window: 2011-2015.