With just two rounds to go in the 2012 season, some clubs have sewn up finals spots, others are still in with a chance, and yet others have started looking to 2013. The Age'sJon Pierik predicts the finals mix.
Round 22: Friday:
Richmond v Essendon, MCG, 7.50pm
St Kilda v GWS, Etihad Stadium, 1.45pm
Port Adelaide v Brisbane, AAMI Stadium, 2.10pm
Sydney v Hawthorn, SCG, 4.40pm
West Coast v Collingwood, Patersons Stadium, 7.40pm
Gold Coast v Carlton, Metricon Stadium, 7.40pm
Geelong v Western Bulldogs, Simonds Stadium, 1.10pm
North Melbourne v Fremantle, Etihad Stadium, 3.15pm
Melbourne v Adelaide, MCG, 4.40pm
Current ladder position: 1. Sydney 64 points 149.6 %
To come: Hawthorn, SCG; Geelong, Simonds Stadium
Pierik says: Lumbered with the toughest run home of any side. Difficult to assess, but appears likely to lose both matches and slip to third, remaining ahead of Collingwood because of its healthy percentage but squandering the chance to host two home finals. Should it at least split the results, will finish top two, possibly first. Did beat Geelong at Simonds Stadium last season. The fitness of Jude Bolton and Mike Pyke a concern.
2. Hawthorn 60 points 158.3 %
To come: Sydney, SCG; West Coast, MCG
Pierik says: Motoring along with a finely tuned game-plan, but the fitness of Big Buddy is an issue. Franklin has flourished at the SCG in the past and will be desperate to play. Have a testing couple of weeks and will need to win both of its matches - which it should do - to capture top spot.
3: Adelaide 60 points 125.7 %
To come: Melbourne, MCG; Gold Coast, AAMI Stadium
Pierik says: Have a ridiculously easy preparation for September, although whether that's a good thing remains to be seen. Will be stung by the loss to Brisbane and could yet finish in top spot should the Hawks stumble.
4: Collingwood 60 points 119.3 %
To come: West Coast, Patersons Stadium; Essendon, MCG
Pierik says: Unlikely to beat the Eagles but will rebound against the slumping Bombers. With the Eagles likely to lose in round 23, this would be enough for the Magpies to finish fourth and secure a double chance. Need more from Cloke and Dawes.
5: West Coast 56 points 125 %
To come: Collingwood, Patersons Stadium; Hawthorn, MCG
Pierik says: Will defeat the Magpies on Saturday night but fall to the Hawks a week later. Will finish fifth or sixth, at least guaranteeing a home final in week one.
6: North Melbourne 52 points 115.2 %
To come: Fremantle, Etihad Stadium; GWS, Skoda Stadium
Pierik says: The form team of the competition. Coach Brad Scott deserves praise for persisting with three talls up forward - Petrie, Hansen and Tarrant. Will win final two matches, with a percentage boost against GWS enough to secure sixth spot and a home final.
7: Geelong 52 points 114.7 %
To come: Western Bulldogs, Simonds Stadium; Sydney, Simonds Stadium
Pierik says: Will thump the Bulldogs then face a crucial clash against the Swans. One win should be enough to avoid finishing eighth - and face the Eagles a week later in a first final in Perth. Would fancy its chances against North in an elimination final in Melbourne.
8: Fremantle 48 points 109.6 %
To come: North Melbourne, Etihad Stadium; Melbourne, Patersons Stadium
Pierik says: Will need to win its final two matches to hold Carlton out of eighth spot. If it loses to the Kangaroos, percentage could determine whether it reaches September - with a big win over the Demons required. Matthew Pavlich's hamstring injury could ultimately derail the campaign.
9: Carlton 44 points 110.5 %
To come: Gold Coast, Metricon Stadium; St Kilda, Etihad Stadium
Pierik says: Will cash in against the Suns with a healthy percentage boost, ensuring it has the edge on the Dockers in this regard. Must then topple a St Kilda side, most likely missing Nick Riewoldt, a week later. Blues won't have any fears about playing the Eagles in the first week of the finals.
10: Essendon 44 points 104.1 %
To come: Richmond, MCG; Collingwood, MCG
Pierik says: As odd as it seems, can still make the finals with two unexpected victories, and Carlton, Fremantle and St Kilda all stumble. But it's been a disastrous end to the season for the Bombers and a comprehensive review, particularly of their fitness and injury programs, can begin.
11: St Kilda 40 points 116.9 %
To come: GWS, Etihad Stadium; Carlton, Etihad Stadium
Pierik says: The loss to Geelong all but ended its hopes. Has a healthy percentage but needs Fremantle to lose both matches.
Predicted finish of teams in finals contention:
West Coast 60
Nth Melbourne 60
St Kilda 44
Possible first week of finals:
Hawthorn v Collingwood (First qualifying final)
Adelaide v Sydney (Second qualifying final)
West Coast v Carlton (First elimination final)
Nth Melbourne v Geelong (Second elimination final)