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The Run Home after Round 16, predicted ladder, top eight, finals, ladder predictor, analysis, fixture

After appearing safe, two big upsets have placed Sydney and Carlton back into finals jeopardy – while Collingwood looks September-bound, a year after finishing 17th.

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 have a 50 per cent chance each 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.

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

“Bloody nightmare fuel!” Armstrong roast | 05:09

PROJECTED WEEK 1 OF FINALS

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

First Elimination Final (5th hosts 8th): Collingwood vs Sydney Swans at the MCG

Second Elimination Final (6th hosts 7th): Carlton vs Richmond at the MCG

Second Qualifying Final (2nd hosts 3rd): Geelong Cats vs Brisbane Lions at the MCG

Note: It was reported in 2018 the AFL would consider playing finals on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday if all four games “should” be at the MCG, rather than the usual Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday format.

The most likely alternative would be playing one at Marvel Stadium, because Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium is mid-development and they’re not playing a final in front of 20k fans down there – though it’s hard to work out which game would move (since you wouldn’t want to shut out 40k Blues and Tigers fans). Four at the ‘G seems more likely.

PROJECTED FINAL LADDER

1. Melbourne (15.85 projected wins)

2. Geelong Cats (15.3)

3. Brisbane Lions (15.25)

4. Fremantle (14.8)

5. Collingwood (13.85)

6. Carlton (13.7)

7. Richmond (13.3)

8. Sydney Swans (13.25)

9. St Kilda (12.55)

10. Western Bulldogs (11.85)

11. Gold Coast Suns (10.9)

12. Port Adelaide (10.6)

13. Adelaide Crows (8.05)

14. GWS Giants (7.85)

15. Hawthorn (7.55)

16. Essendon (6.8)

17. West Coast Eagles (4)

18. North Melbourne (2.55)

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

Historic chance of playing finals from current record is calculated using data from the 1995-2019 seasons. For example, Melbourne is 12-3, and 100% of 12-3 teams have gone on to play finals.

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.

Demons fight to take down Crows | 01:02

1. MELBOURNE (12-3, 139.6%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium

Round 18: Port Adelaide at TIO Traeger Park

Round 19: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 21: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 22: Carlton at the MCG

Round 23: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: Hardest

For a while there it looked like we were getting another “ring the bell!!” result, but the Demons held on to consolidate their lead at the top.

Now, in another echo of 2021, a clash between Melbourne and Geelong at the Cattery will have a major impact on the minor premiership. The winner should be favoured to claim it.

But if the Dees lose on Thursday night, it’ll be an exciting six-week dash between themselves, the Cats and Lions to see who can make the top two. And the Round 23 Gabba game would be even bigger.

Fox Footy’s projection: 15.85 projected wins, finishing 1st

2. GEELONG CATS (11-4, 135.6%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium

Round 18: Carlton at the MCG

Round 19: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 20: Western Bulldogs at GMHBA Stadium

Round 21: St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium

Round 22: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium

Round 23: West Coast Eagles at GMHBA Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 94%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 9th-hardest

Percentage boost, tick. Chance to beat the Demons and claim minor premiership favouritism, tick.

Luckily for Geelong, Max Gawn won’t be kicking the match-winning goal after the siren this Thursday night. But just like last year, a loss could be the difference between the top two and an away qualifying final.

The Cats can afford to lose and still finish top two but it’ll be somewhat out of their hands, because Melbourne would be close to uncatchable, and Brisbane has an easier remaining fixture.

They should still make the top four from here, because their enormous percentage basically gives them a two-game lead over fifth-placed Carlton – but given they play Carlton in Round 18, dropping their next two would change that dramatically.

(The 0.05-win gap between them and Brisbane is basically zero. The results in Cats-Dees and Lions-Dees are what matters, plus any upsets.)

Fox Footy’s projection: 15.3 projected wins, finishing 2nd

Cats thump hapless Roos by 112 points | 01:21

3. BRISBANE LIONS (11-4, 126.9%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Essendon at the Gabba

Round 18: GWS Giants at Manuka Oval

Round 19: Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba

Round 20: Richmond at the MCG

Round 21: Carlton at the Gabba

Round 22: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Melbourne at the Gabba

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 94%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 4th-hardest

Not only did the Lions win one of the trickiest games left on their fixture on Thursday night, but they did it impressively, showing they’re still an absolute force at the Gabba.

With Melbourne and Geelong facing off this week, and Brisbane staring down three very winnable games, they’re every chance of being back in the top two heading into the final month of the season.

From there it’d be about beating fellow contenders to prove they deserve a home qualifying final – and as we’ve seen this year, the Lions are de-fanged when they’re playing in Victoria.

We’d suggest whether they gain and hold a top-two spot will have a huge impact on their chances of making the Grand Final.

Fox Footy’s projection: 15.25 projected wins, finishing 3rd

AFL lands Robbie Williams for GF | 00:48

4. FREMANTLE (11-4, 121.3%)

Remaining games

Round 17: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 18: Sydney Swans at Optus Stadium

Round 19: Richmond at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Melbourne at Optus Stadium

Round 21: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 23: GWS Giants at Manuka Oval

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 94%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 8th-hardest

It’s almost like that Carlton loss didn’t happen now, with a healthy gap restored between the Dockers and the top-four chasers. (Though not as healthy as it looked at three-quarter-time on Sunday.)

They almost have a two-game lead on everyone below them, because the 10-win Blues and Magpies’ percentages are relatively poor. But that lead could evaporate over the next three weeks as Fremantle plays the three nine-win sides.

Each win over the Saints, Swans or Tigers will virtually end that opposing side’s chances of knocking Fremantle out of the four. But lose two or dare we say all three, and the Dockers will be back among the messy race for the bottom half of the eight.

They remain the most vulnerable team in the top four, though they are less vulnerable than they were a week ago, so this was definitely a good weekend for them.

Fox Footy’s projection: 14.8 projected wins, finishing 4th

5. CARLTON (10-5, 112.1%)

Remaining games

Round 17: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 18: Geelong Cats at the MCG

Round 19: GWS Giants at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 21: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Round 22: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 23: Collingwood at the MCG

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 10th-hardest

All the Blues’ good work in knocking off Fremantle was undone by their loss to St Kilda, which puts them on the outside of the top four, looking in.

They should still play finals but it’s not the absolute certainty it looked like a week ago – beating West Coast, GWS and Adelaide over the next month should do it.

They’re virtually two wins back of Geelong, Brisbane and Fremantle; you’d think they’re more likely to catch and pass the Dockers, but they have chances head-to-head against the Cats and Lions. We’d be surprised if the Blues finished ahead of either but it’s not impossible.

Of note, Carlton has slipped to sixth in projected wins, slightly behind Collingwood because their rival’s remaining fixture is easier. But the Blues have roughly a 12-goal edge in percentage.

That could easily be made up over the course of the season, or indeed in Round 23 itself, which is looking more and more like it’ll be a night of ‘watch the live ladder go crazy every time the margin changes’. Which we love.

Fox Footy’s projection: 13.7 projected wins, finishing 6th

Pies win instant classic against Suns | 02:30

6. COLLINGWOOD (10-5, 106.1%)

Remaining games

Round 17: North Melbourne at the MCG

Round 18: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 19: Essendon at the MCG

Round 20: Port Adelaide at the MCG

Round 21: Melbourne at the MCG

Round 22: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Round 23: Carlton at the MCG

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 13th-hardest

Collingwood is either playing finals or suffering a horrendous collapse – they are the only two options from here.

Winning their 50-50 clash on the Gold Coast in thrilling fashion means the Magpies have one foot in September, and just need to take care of business over the next month to lock it up.

Are they guaranteed to beat North, Adelaide and Essendon? No. (Well, maybe North.) But if they lose once it’d be a serious upset, and even if the Magpies go 2-1 over that patch, they’ll still have 12 wins with a month of the season remaining.

They should play finals. The one caveat is their percentage, which makes them the most likely team to miss out if there’s a big tie on 13 wins.

The top four still feels unlikely – and they’re virtually two games back because of their percentage – but if they win the games they should, they’d only need to beat one or two of Melbourne/Sydney/Carlton to potentially sneak in.

Seriously though. Six straight wins. 10-5. They have to play finals from here.

Fox Footy’s projection: 13.85 projected wins, finishing 5th

7. RICHMOND (9-6, 117.8%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium

Round 18: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: Fremantle at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Brisbane Lions at the MCG

Round 21: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 22: Hawthorn at the MCG

Round 23: Essendon at the MCG

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 77%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 15th-hardest

It was a hell of a lot closer than the win over the Eagles earlier this year, but the Tigers catapulted themselves back into the eight, taking advantage of loses by Sydney and the Bulldogs.

And this is why we were so confident in Richmond last week, even when they were ninth. They’ll be favoured in at least five of their last seven games and their percentage is the fifth-best in the comp.

Gold Coast next week isn’t a shoe-in, and the games against Port, Hawthorn and Essendon aren’t automatic either (especially playing Port away), but we’d be floored if Richmond didn’t get to 13 wins from here.

The Dockers and Lions games have become eight-pointers which give the Tigers a sneaky chance of cracking the top four.

Fox Footy’s projection: 13.3 projected wins, finishing 7th

Richmond win but suffer Dusty blow | 01:17

8. SYDNEY SWANS (9-6, 117.1%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Western Bulldogs at the SCG

Round 18: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 19: Adelaide Crows at the SCG

Round 20: GWS Giants at the SCG

Round 21: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Collingwood at the SCG

Round 23: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 77%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 14th-hardest

The Swans were the weekend’s biggest losers – the Bulldogs’ loss was costly, but mostly expected; the Blues’ loss is just a lesser version of Sydney’s upset which puts them in some jeopardy.

After failing to take care of business against Essendon, the Swans face the very real prospect of spending a couple of weeks outside of the eight… and maybe missing it entirely.

If they lose to the Dogs, as they did in Round 3 in a game not as close as the 11-point margin suggests, they’ll almost certainly be out. And Freo in the west is the hardest game left on their fixture.

From there the Swans would be needing to win four of their last five to play finals, and we think they’re good enough to do that, but they’ll be on the outside looking in and no longer controlling their fate.

Yes, last week we said the top six (which included Sydney) were safe. But that was assuming they’d beat the Bombers. Thanks for making a you-know-what out of us.

Fox Footy’s projection: 13.25 projected wins, finishing 8th

Saints land HUGE upset over Blues | 02:42

9. ST KILDA (9-6, 108.2%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Fremantle at Marvel Stadium

Round 18: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 20: Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium

Round 22: Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 77%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 5th-hardest

Their upset win over Carlton keeps the Saints just percentage out of the eight… but the gap feels bigger than that.

They probably still need to win three of their next four, minimum, but if they’re going to keep playing good footy under the roof then they’re a chance. (Admittedly on expected scores they should’ve lost to Carlton, so accuracy gave them a big leg-up on Friday night.)

The problem is simple – who are they going to knock out of the eight?

Collingwood, on a six-game winning streak and with their next four against members of the bottom 10? Probably not.

Richmond, having won seven of their last nine, and with five games left against the bottom 10? Seems unlikely.

Sydney?! They’ve copped some upsets this year, and if they lose to the Dogs and Dockers over the next fortnight they might fall out, but their last five is pretty easy.

Carlton is at least slightly vulnerable thanks to Friday’s result, but even they have three very-likely wins left, and are good enough to pinch another one or two.

There’s a path here. Beat Freo, the Dogs, West Coast and Hawthorn, and you’re on 13 wins heading into a last-round mini-final against Sydney. At that point anything can happen, and we can’t imagine a team missing on 14 wins.

It’s just bloody hard.

Fox Footy’s projection: 12.55 projected wins, finishing 9th

10. WESTERN BULLDOGS (8-7, 115.7%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Round 18: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium

Round 21: Fremantle at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: GWS Giants at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 61%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 2nd-hardest

The Bulldogs had a horrible weekend, with their loss combined with wins for St Kilda and Collingwood making it that much harder for them to play finals. At least Sydney lost.

They can still make it, but they pretty much have to win their next two games – Essendon’s win over the Swans makes it at least plausible for the Bulldogs to pass them.

But as discussed in St Kilda’s section, pretty much every team already in the eight has a really good case for why they’ll make it.

By sheer virtue of the fact they play Sydney, you’d suggest it’s easiest to catch them, but even then the Swans have five games left against the bottom 10 (including the Dogs).

Excluding a collapse from someone above them, at minimum the Bulldogs need to go 5-2 from here.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.85 projected wins, finishing 10th

SCENES! Metricon heaves after debut goal | 00:53

11. GOLD COAST SUNS (7-8, 109.4%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Richmond at Metricon Stadium

Round 18: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Round 20: West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium

Round 21: Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium

Round 22: Geelong Cats at Metricon Stadium

Round 23: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 21%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 16th-hardest

We always say that close games are luck. And unfortunately for the Suns, luck is not on their side this year.

They look extremely likely to miss finals after losing consecutive thrillers against Port Adelaide and now Collingwood.

Even if they can bounce back and beat Richmond – which is certainly possible – they will almost certainly need to win six of their last seven games to have a chance of sneaking into the eight.

It’s doable – they’d need to beat two of Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane and take care of business against the rest – but you’d suggest unlikely.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.9 projected wins, finishing 11th

12. PORT ADELAIDE (7-8, 103.9%)

Remaining games

Round 17: GWS Giants at Adelaide Oval

Round 18: Melbourne at TIO Traeger Park

Round 19: Geelong Cats at Adelaide Oval

Round 20: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 21: Richmond at Adelaide Oval

Round 22: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 21%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 6th-hardest

That’s probably it for the Power. While Fremantle in the west was one of their hardest games left, and their near-comeback was impressive, it’s still a very costly loss.

They pretty much have to go 6-1 now, which means beating three of Melbourne, Geelong, Collingwood and Richmond.

Mayyyyyybe they win all of their remaining games at home, then beat the Magpies and Essendon in Melbourne, and get to 13 wins. But to be honest that still might not be enough.

We don’t know how many teams actually end up playing finals after reaching this ‘mathematically alive but realistically not’ stage, but it can’t be many.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.6 projected wins, finishing 12th

GRAPHIC: Fogarty finger goes WRONG way | 01:04

WON’T PLAY FINALS

13. GWS GIANTS (5-10, 92.9%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Round 18: Brisbane Lions at Manuka Oval

Round 19: Carlton at Marvel Stadium

Round 20: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Round 21: Essendon at Giants Stadium

Round 22: Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Fremantle at Manuka Oval

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 3%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 3rd-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 7.85 projected wins, finishing 15th

14. ADELAIDE CROWS (5-10, 84.4%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium

Round 18: Collingwood at Adelaide Oval

Round 19: Sydney Swans at the SCG

Round 20: Carlton at Adelaide Oval

Round 21: West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium

Round 22: North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval

Round 23: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 3%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 18th-hardest (Easiest)

Fox Footy’s projection: 8.05 projected wins, finishing 14th

15. HAWTHORN (4-11, 84.8%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Adelaide Crows at Marvel Stadium

Round 18: West Coast Eagles at the MCG

Round 19: North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena

Round 20: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: Gold Coast Suns at UTAS Stadium

Round 22: Richmond at the MCG

Round 23: Western Bulldogs at UTAS Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 5%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 17th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 7.55 projected wins, finishing 15th

Swans stung by Bombers big upset | 01:25

16. ESSENDON (4-11, 80.5%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

Round 18: Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 20: North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: GWS Giants at Giants Stadium

Round 22: Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium

Round 23: Richmond at the MCG

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 5%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 11th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 6.8 projected wins, finishing 16th

17. WEST COAST EAGLES (2-13, 57.1%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Carlton at Optus Stadium

Round 18: Hawthorn at the MCG

Round 19: St Kilda at Optus Stadium

Round 20: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium

Round 21: Adelaide Crows at Optus Stadium

Round 22: Fremantle at Optus Stadium

Round 23: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 0%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 7th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 4 projected wins, finishing 17th

18. NORTH MELBOURNE (1-14, 49.5%)

Remaining games

Round 17: Collingwood at the MCG

Round 18: Richmond at Marvel Stadium

Round 19: Hawthorn at Blundstone Arena

Round 20: Essendon at Marvel Stadium

Round 21: Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium

Round 22: Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval

Round 23: Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium

Historic chance of playing finals from current record: 0%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 12th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 2.55 projected wins, finishing 18th

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