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The Run Home after Round 18, predicted ladder, top eight, finals, ladder predictor, analysis, fixture

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For weeks, the ladder has made the finals race look closer than it really was. But a dramatic Saturday, featuring some huge results, has genuinely broken it wide open.

This is The Run Home, where Foxfooty.com.au analyses every club’s remaining fixture and tries to predict how the rest of the year will play out.

Which teams could take advantage of an easy draw to climb the ladder, and which clubs could tumble down the table based on a tough run of games?

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How does the Run Home work?

The below projections predict each game on a percentage chance basis, and then use those odds to give each team a projected win total.

For example, we might say two teams each have a 50 per cent chance of winning a very even game. So they’d each get 0.5 projected wins for their total. That’s why almost all teams have a projection that’s not a round number.

It’s all about probability, and it’s more accurate than trying to tip wins and losses, because no-one can tip nine every round. It also means the predicted win totals are naturally conservative at the top, and optimistic at the bottom – and it’s hard for teams to catch up to sides who are multiple wins ahead of them (which is a fair reflection of reality).

Think of the projected win totals as the average result if you played the season out 100 times.

PROJECTED WEEK 1 OF FINALS

First Qualifying Final (1st hosts 4th): Collingwood vs Melbourne at the MCG

First Elimination Final (5th hosts 8th): Geelong vs Carlton at the MCG

Second Elimination Final (6th hosts 7th): Western Bulldogs vs Essendon at the MCG

Second Qualifying Final (2nd hosts 3rd): Port Adelaide vs Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval

PROJECTED FINAL LADDER

1. Collingwood (18.55 projected wins)

2. Port Adelaide (17.45)

3. Brisbane Lions (15.6)

4. Melbourne (14.9)

5. Geelong (12.8)

6. Western Bulldogs (12.75)

7. Essendon (12.45)

8. Carlton (11.9)

9. St Kilda (11.85)

10. Richmond (11.7)

11. GWS Giants (11.65)

12. Adelaide Crows (11.2)

13. Gold Coast Suns (10.85)

14. Sydney Swans (10.3)

15. Fremantle (10.2)

16. Hawthorn (7.1)

17. North Melbourne (4.05)

18. West Coast Eagles (1.6)

Below, all 18 clubs are listed and analysed in the current ladder order.

Remaining fixture difficulty is calculated using the average percentage of remaining opponents. This naturally advantages teams with a strong percentage themselves (because they can’t play themselves) and vice versa, but is a basic metric of how tough the remaining fixture is.

KEY TALKING POINTS

Collingwood has one hand on the minor premiership and will effectively clinch it if they beat Port Adelaide next week;

– The Power and Brisbane’s losses keep the race for second in a stalemate, with Ken Hinkley’s men still favoured but certainly catchable;

Melbourne’s win over the Lions makes it very likely the current top four will be the final top four, with only Geelong a realistic chance of breaking into the quartet. Either way the Cats look quite likely to make the eight unless they cop upsets at home, or against the Saints;

– The Western Bulldogs and Essendon are still expected to make the eight, helped by each having two games left against the bottom three;

– The race for eighth is ridiculously close now thanks to losses by St Kilda and Adelaide, plus wins for the Blues, Richmond and GWS. Any of that five could make it with a couple of critical wins but off the back of ending the Power’s winning streak, Carlton is now the very narrow favourite for eighth;

– To put it simply, if you reach 13 wins you’re playing finals. More realistically it’s a race to 12, and the Blues and Tigers also have the quasi-advantage of a draw.

Gold Coast and Sydney need to keep winning but aren’t eliminated yet, while Fremantle is realistically done.

Pies thrive in second term to sink Freo | 01:31

1. COLLINGWOOD (15-2, 139%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 20: Carlton at the MCG

Round 21: Hawthorn at the MCG

Round 22: Geelong at the MCG

Round 23: Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: Essendon at the MCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Fifth-hardest

Thanks to their old friends Carlton, the Magpies look to have secured the minor premiership, as they could now afford a loss to Port Adelaide next week and still be favourites to finish on top of the ladder. And fair enough too – the Power, as we’ve written about a few times, are the 2022 Magpies (flying higher than their percentage). These Magpies are a different breed, and seem quite clearly the best team in it, especially since they’re well on track to play all of their finals at the MCG. Their biggest threat might actually be Geelong somehow sneaking into fourth to create a rematch of last year’s epic qualifying final, or working their way into a prelim against the Magpies (though the Cats would probably have to finish sixth or seventh for that).

Fox Footy’s projection: 18.55 wins, finishing 1st

Port Adelaide Press Conference | 06:10

2. PORT ADELAIDE (14-3, 114.7%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Collingwood at Adelaide Oval

Round 20: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 21: Geelong at GMHBA Stadium

Round 22: GWS Giants at Adelaide Oval

Round 23: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 24: Richmond at Adelaide Oval

Remaining fixture difficulty: Second-hardest

The streak had to come to an end at some point – it was just a week earlier than we expected. Thankfully for the Power, the biggest result of their weekend was actually on Friday night, with Melbourne’s comeback over Brisbane ensuring they hold a two-game lead for second with six to play. That lead isn’t entirely secure, with three very tricky games to come; but even if the Power briefly fall into third behind the Lions, we suspect they’d leap back up into second after the Lions play Collingwood in Round 23. But at the very least the loss to Carlton has opened up the possibility of the Power failing to earn a home qualifying final. Next week, with Lions-Cats plus Pies-Port, will be critical in this race.

Fox Footy’s projection: 17.45 wins, finishing 2nd

‘Isn’t it clear?’ – Bucks backs ump in c | 02:14

3. BRISBANE LIONS (12-5, 130.4%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Geelong Cats at the Gabba

Round 20: Gold Coast Suns at Heritage Bank Stadium

Round 21: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 22: Adelaide Crows at the Gabba

Round 23: Collingwood at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: St Kilda at the Gabba

Remaining fixture difficulty: Third-hardest

At least Port Adelaide also lost, so the Lions’ dream of a home qualifying final wasn’t completely dashed this weekend – and they played well enough for large matches of the game to prove they’re not a lost cause at the MCG. But it was still a major blow, and there’s at least the possibility now they miss the top four now, especially if they lose to Geelong. It’s really a massive round next week – if the Lions and Magpies (over Port Adelaide) both win, then second is well and truly gettable. If the Cats and Power win, then Chris Fagan’s men are still likely to hold onto the double chance, but it’ll be getting tense.

Fox Footy’s projection: 15.6 wins, finishing 3rd

4. MELBOURNE (11-6, 125.1%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Adelaide Crows at the MCG

Round 20: Richmond at the MCG

Round 21: North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena

Round 22: Carlton at the MCG

Round 23: Hawthorn at the MCG

Round 24: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Fourth-easiest

With eight minutes left on Friday night, the Demons looked consigned to the chasing pack, at risk of dropping out of the top four entirely. But their spectacular comeback win over Brisbane keeps them in a great position, well and truly favoured to earn a top four spot and giving themselves the best opportunity to play deep into September. We’ve got them favoured in each of their remaining six games – though only narrowly over the Tigers, Blues and Swans – and winning four would be enough to secure the double chance. Three would likely do it too, though if the Cats would at least have a chance of catching them.

Fox Footy’s projection: 14.9 wins, finishing 4th

Dees seal one point win in thriller! | 02:57

5. GEELONG (9-7-1, 122.9%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Round 20: Fremantle at GMHBA Stadium

Round 21: Port Adelaide at GMHBA Stadium

Round 22: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 23: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: Western Bulldogs at GMHBA Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Hardest

It was an almost perfect weekend for the Cats; it would’ve been handy if Brisbane had held on to beat Melbourne, since that would’ve put them just a win out of fourth. But with the teams around them all losing, and their healthy percentage suddenly kinda relevant against sides like Carlton and Richmond, the premiers leap up into fifth in our projections. Wins in their three remaining home games should be enough for finals footy, and the St Kilda game is looking easier by the week, so as long as they don’t lose multiple games as favourites they’ll be fine. Knock off the Lions up north or the Magpies at the G and not only will the Cats well and truly be September-bound, but they’ll have proven why they’re going to be scary wherever they end up finishing. That’s probably just going to be fifth or sixth, because unless they win out, they’re extremely unlikely to catch Melbourne or Brisbane for fourth. (Both teams are two wins ahead, assuming in this scenario the Cats upset the Lions next week, but we’d be surprised if they slipped up twice given their draws.)

Fox Footy’s projection: 12.8 wins, finishing 5th

6. ST KILDA (9-8, 104.3%)

Remaining games

Round 19: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: Carlton at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Richmond at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Geelong at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Remaining fixture difficulty: Eighth-easiest

By an extremely slim percentage margin, the Saints still haven’t dropped out of the top six all season, and they finally get a chance to bank some wins (and build more percentage) over the next fortnight. That’s the good news. The bad news is after their games against two members of the bottom three, the Saints’ season is on the line – and it’s hard to have much faith in them. If they can beat just one of the Blues, Tigers, Cats or Lions it could be enough to squeeze them into the eight (especially if they build some percentage against the Roos/Hawks, and don’t lose much in their other games). But they should go into all four games as underdogs and we’d argue the difficulty level ramps up every week, so the longer they wait for that 12th win, the harder it is to find. For the first time this season, we have the Saints missing the eight by the barest of margins… and assuming they get to 11 wins but then struggle, it may be a Carlton 2022 situation, where they’re in there until falling out in the very last round.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.85 wins, finishing 9th

King could return within 4-5 weeks | 01:08

7. WESTERN BULLDOGS (9-8, 103.5%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: GWS Giants at Mars Stadium

Round 21: Richmond at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium

Round 23: West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: Geelong at GMHBA Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Easiest

Thursday night’s tight loss to the Swans was unfortunate, and certainly makes the Dogs’ slim top four hopes even slimmer, but it’s not a devastating blow to their finals hopes – especially after the teams around them also lost. We were already assuming Sydney game was one of their two hardest remaining (along with Geelong in Geelong); so while it’s a missed opportunity, they airballed a long three rather than a layup. The next three weeks should determine how high the Dogs can really finish, since they really should bank those two wins against the Hawks and Eagles (and they’ll want to bolster their percentage too). Beat all three of the Bombers, Giants and Tigers, and they’ll be hosting at least one final. Beat two and they’re making it, and probably playing a final in Victoria whoever they get anyway. Beat one or none and then it gets scary.

Fox Footy’s projection: 12.75 wins, finishing 6th

Western Bulldogs Press Conference | 04:36

8. ESSENDON (9-8, 101.2%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: GWS Giants at Giants Stadium

Round 24: Collingwood at the MCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Second-easiest

So they couldn’t beat the reigning premiers at one of the hardest venues to play at; that’s not a big surprise. The magnitude of the loss admittedly was, but the Bombers still control their destiny with five winnable games to come over the next five weeks including four straight at home. They still look like certainties to get to 11 wins, and have been consistent enough against teams around their level across the season that we’re confident saying they’ll beat at least one of the Bulldogs, Swans and Giants too. As long as they do, they’ll have a shot at September, though we wouldn’t call them safe if they can only reach 12 wins with a middling percentage. Playing that trio of teams around them is a blessing (if they win) and a curse (if they lose), since they’re hurting or helping a direct rival for their spot in the eight. All to play for but the Bombers still have the edge for now.

Fox Footy’s projection: 12.45 wins, finishing 7th

9. GWS GIANTS (9-8, 99.4%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Gold Coast Suns at Manuka Oval

Round 20: Western Bulldogs at Mars Stadium

Round 21: Sydney Swans at Giants Stadium

Round 22: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 23: Essendon at Giants Stadium

Round 24: Carlton at Marvel Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Sixth-hardest

Remarkably the Giants have now won in five different states or territories this year – and WA isn’t one of them, because they lost to West Coast, a result that looks worse and worse by the week. And that may still cost them in the end. But clearly they deserve positivity rather than negativity right now, blowing the top-eight race wide open with their upset of Adelaide – not just for them, but for a few sides around them. Their poor percentage means Adam Kingsley’s men probably still need to win four of their last six, but that’s entirely plausible. Winning three of six could be enough if they’re the right three, and other teams struggle to reach 12 wins with them. A shock finals berth may well come down to that final round clash with Carlton; and the Giants haven’t won a game in Melbourne this year. Yet.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.65 wins, finishing 11th

Carlton Press Conference | 10:35

10. CARLTON (8-8-1, 111.4%)

Remaining games

Round 19: West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 21: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 23: Gold Coast Suns at Heritage Bank Stadium

Round 24: GWS Giants at Marvel Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Ninth-easiest

Yes, you read that correctly – we have Carlton playing finals. Let’s put a few caveats on that though. Their projected win total is heavily boosted by next week’s game against West Coast, an almost certain victory; so even if they win it, they’re not going to grow their total as much as a team like a victorious GWS, Adelaide or Richmond would. We can already tell you that, assuming the favourites win, the Blues won’t be projected into eighth next week – so be prepared for that. What the numbers really show is we’ve got an incredible race on our hands for eighth, with the Blues, Saints, Tigers, Giants and Crows all well and truly in the mix thanks to Saturday’s results (with Suns over Saints and Giants over Crows both assisting Carlton). And while they’d prefer to have won back in Round 1, the draw is still helpful; a 12-and-a-half win Carlton team (assuming they beat the Eagles, Saints, Suns and Giants) probably plays finals. That’s an entirely realistic set of wins! That’s their path and for the first time in months, it’s visible.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.9 wins, finishing 8th

11. RICHMOND (8-8-1, 99.8%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Hawthorn at the MCG

Round 20: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 21: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: North Melbourne at the MCG

Round 24: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Remaining fixture difficulty: Sixth-easiest

St Kilda, the Bulldogs and Essendon losing were all good results for the Tigers. And Adelaide losing was OK, though it kinda just means they have to pass GWS instead. Carlton beating Port Adelaide did not help the Tigers though, as even winning four of their last six games may no longer be enough. (It may come down to percentage vs the Blues.) Either way that still has to be their aim, so while you’d assume Richmond knocks off Hawthorn and North Melbourne, and they’ll be solid favourites against this ailing version of St Kilda, they still have to get the job done against one of Melbourne or the Bulldogs. Even if they do win four of five, it may come down to the final round, where they’d need to either upset the Power away or hope results don’t fall a certain way. As we mentioned in the Carlton section above, the incredible tightness of the projected win totals between the Blues, Saints, Tigers and Giants show just how volatile this race is. We could easily be projecting Richmond into the eight this time next week. But either way, it’s going down to the wire.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.7 wins, finishing 10th

Sloane hopeful of playing on past 250th | 02:02

12. ADELAIDE CROWS (8-9, 114.8%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 20: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 21: Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval

Round 22: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Round 23: Sydney Swans at Adelaide Oval

Round 24: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Ninth-hardest

Twice this year the Crows led Collingwood at three-quarter-time but lost – showing just how close they are to the AFL’s best. And twice this year the Crows led GWS at three-quarter-time but lost – showing why they might’ve thrown away a finals spot. They really needed Saturday night’s win, not just to hurt the Giants’ finals case but to bolster their own. As it stand the Crows still have a path to 12 wins (with a very strong percentage), but it’s a tricky one. They effectively have to win one of their next two to have any shot, and while we know they’re good enough this year to win a Showdown, they’re still underdogs. Beat the Dees or Power, and then the Suns, Swans and Eagles, and that’s your 12… but percentage wouldn’t help them against Carlton, Richmond or Sydney (though if Sydney’s making it, they surely would’ve beaten Adelaide anyway, making the argument moot). At best, we think the Crows may head into Round 24 knowing they’re likely to win themselves, but needing certain results to go their way to sneak into the eight (perhaps based on the Carlton-GWS, Dogs-Cats, Tigers-Port and/or Bombers-Pies games).

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.2 wins, finishing 12th

Suns shine in first game since sacking | 00:54

13. GOLD COAST SUNS (8-9, 94.6%)

Remaining games

Round 19: GWS Giants at Manuka Oval

Round 20: Brisbane Lions at Heritage Bank Stadium

Round 21: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 22: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Round 23: Carlton at Heritage Bank Stadium

Round 24: North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena

Remaining fixture difficulty: Seventh-hardest

The Suns did themselves a favour with their win over St Kilda, but we suspect it’s more likely they just knocked the Saints out and allowed one of the Blues, Giants, Tigers or Crows to take their place in the eight. The story is still a scary one for Steven King’s men – lose to the Giants and they’re done. Win it, and they can still get to 12 wins if a few things go their way, but it’s extremely unlikely that’d be enough with their percentage (and with Carlton, Richmond and Sydney all having the quasi-advantage of a draw). So realistically the Suns need to win five of their last six.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.85 wins, finishing 13th

Touching scenes as Swans celebrate Horse | 01:02

14. SYDNEY SWANS (7-9-1, 110.3%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 20: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: GWS Giants at Giants Stadium

Round 22: Gold Coast Suns at the SCG

Round 23: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 24: Melbourne at the SCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Eighth-hardest

We said last week we’d reconsider the Swans’ case for making the eight if they beat the Dogs and Dockers. Well, one step complete, as after a frustrating run of games where they played better than the results they gathered, John Longmire’s 300th was celebrated with a victory. It doesn’t really change a whole lot for them though; they still need to keep winning – 11 wins is the absolute minimum they need, but would only be enough in a miraculous scenario where everyone else keeps falling over, so they basically still need to reach 12. And that would require winning five of six – possible, but very hard. So you can see why the Dockers game is so important.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.3 wins, finishing 14th

Swan handed two-match ban | 00:59

15. FREMANTLE (7-10, 89.3%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Sydney Swans at Optus Stadium

Round 20: Geelong at GMHBA Stadium

Round 21: Brisbane Lions at Optus Stadium

Round 22: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 23: Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium

Round 24: Hawthorn at the MCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Seventh-easiest

We can’t put Fremantle in the Not Playing Finals section when they’re only two wins out with six rounds left, but make no mistake, they’re not playing finals. With a bad percentage they would need to win all of their last six to make the eight, and that just doesn’t seem at all realistic.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.2 wins, finishing 15th

Fremantle Dockers Press Conference | 06:49

NOT PLAYING FINALS

16. HAWTHORN (5-12, 77.3%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Richmond at the MCG

Round 20: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 22: Western Bulldogs at UTAS Stadium

Round 23: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 24: Fremantle at the MCG

Remaining fixture difficulty: Fourth-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 7.1 wins, finishing 16th

17. NORTH MELBOURNE (2-15, 65.8%)

Remaining games

Round 19: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 21: Melbourne at Blundstone Arena

Round 22: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Richmond at the MCG

Round 24: Gold Coast Suns at Blundstone Arena

Remaining fixture difficulty: Third-easiest

Fox Footy’s projection: 4.05 wins, finishing 17th

18. WEST COAST EAGLES (1-16, 48.8%)

Remaining games

Round 19: Carlton at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: North Melbourne at Optus Stadium

Round 21: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 23: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 24: Adelaide Crows at Optus Stadium

Remaining fixture difficulty: Fifth-easiest

Fox Footy’s projection: 1.6 wins, finishing 18th

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