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

Round 18 saw three upsets, each having its own impact on the finals race – making the top four and top eight races even more 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 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.

Buckley adresses North job rumors | 01:06

PROJECTED WEEK 1 OF FINALS

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

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

Second Elimination Final (6th hosts 7th): Sydney Swans vs Carlton at the SCG

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

PROJECTED FINAL LADDER

1. Geelong Cats (16.25 projected wins)

2. Melbourne (15.75)

3. Brisbane Lions (14.85)

4. Fremantle (14.8)

5. Collingwood (14.45)

6. Sydney Swans (14.3)

7. Carlton (13.55)

8. Richmond (11.9)

9. Western Bulldogs (11.7)

10. St Kilda (11.6)

11. Gold Coast Suns (10.8)

12. Port Adelaide (10.6)

13. Essendon (8.3)

14. Hawthorn (8.25)

15. Adelaide Crows (7.25)

16. GWS Giants (7)

17. West Coast Eagles (3.45)

18. North Melbourne (3.25)

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, the Cats are 13-4, and no team has ever missed the top eight with 13 wins so they’re given 100%.

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.

1. GEELONG CATS (13-4, 137%)

Remaining games

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: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 14th-hardest

Well, they’re on top of the ladder and they don’t play another top-eight team. Things are looking pretty rosy for the Cats after their comfortable, mature win over Carlton.

It’s not quite as easy as that sounds because their next four opponents are all playing for their seasons. In particular, the Power and Suns are much better at home.

We have all four games around the 60-40 mark Geelong’s way – favoured, but not strongly favoured, and we’d expect them to stumble at least once.

But look at the fixtures of the teams below them. The Demons will surely stumble at least once over the next month, and we’d be very surprised if the Dockers or Lions finished on a 5-0 run.

At the very least the Cats should stay in the top two. Melbourne playing Fremantle and Brisbane guarantees at least two losses between that group, making it hard for two teams to pass Chris Scott’s side.

Fox Footy’s projection: 16.25 wins, finishing 1st

Geelong see off strong Carlton | 02:03

2. MELBOURNE (13-4, 132.6%)

Remaining games

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

A Kozzie Pickett-led second half charge got the Demons home in the red centre; combined with Sydney’s upset of Fremantle, the premiers are now a game and quite a bit of percentage clear in the top two.

But it’s not all good news, because that nervous afternoon against Port Adelaide was supposed to be one of their easiest games left. The Dogs are playing for their season next week, and then it’s four fellow top-eight teams left on the docket.

Melbourne’s fate should still be determined by the games away to Fremantle and Brisbane. Win both and they’ll almost certainly host a qualifying final; win only one, or none, and they can be caught.

Heck, if they lose to Collingwood they could still be passed by them, and Sydney is charging ahead of a pretty kind draw. A top four spot is very likely but not yet assured.

Fox Footy’s projection: 15.75 wins, finishing 2nd

Pickett inspires Demons to victory | 02:08

3. BRISBANE LIONS (12-5, 126%)

Remaining games

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: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 2nd-hardest

Things got back to normal in Saturday’s comfortable win over the Giants, but the Lions certainly aren’t assured of a top-four spot yet.

If they win four of five with their percentage, they should get there. Three of five will be tight, and may depend on exactly who they beat, but we’d still back them (just).

Any worse than that and they’re in strife. You’d still expect Freo to reach 15 wins; both the Swans and Magpies can get there too, though we suspect whichever of the pair loses to the other in Round 22 won’t.

But that’s still two teams who can definitely pass Brisbane. They can’t ease up from here.

Fox Footy’s projection: 14.85 wins, finishing 3rd

Brisbane down Giants to stay in top 4 | 02:19

4. FREMANTLE (12-5, 120.6%)

Remaining games

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: 100%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 11th-hardest

It wasn’t a massive upset against the Swans, who have higher highs and lower lows than almost anyone in the competition, but it could prove rather costly.

The Dockers’ absolute floor looks like 14 wins, and you’d expect them to reach 15, but pretty much everyone from Sydney up can reach 15 – so Justin Longmuir’s men can’t afford many more slip-ups if they want a top four spot.

Their next two games are their hardest left, and the third isn’t a cakewalk. Plus, thanks to Saturday’s loss, beating Melbourne won’t guarantee passing them given the difference in percentage.

It’ll be a nervy few weeks, but if the Dockers play at their best, they should be able to ease their way into September.

If they go 1-2, or worse, they’ll probably be relying on others to stumble.

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

5. COLLINGWOOD (12-5, 106.2%)

Remaining games

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: 4th-hardest

At this point our life is basically that meme format with us on the left angrily going “No! You can’t just keep winning close games and make the top four!” and the Collingwood logo on the right going “haha four points go brrrrrr”?

The Magpies still need one of the teams above them to fall over, and Sydney is looming large just below them. But unless their luck really changes and they lose five straight, Craig McRae’s men are playing finals.

If one of Brisbane or Fremantle fall over, the top four remains gettable. And hey, maybe Collingwood will just keep winning close games forever.

Win three of their last five and the top four is a chance (with their percentage probably keeping them out); win four of five and we’d be shocked if they missed it.

But their last month is genuinely very tough, and if they lose to the Swans and/or Blues, there’s still a good chance the Pies finish below them.

That last two weeks… ooft. Can’t wait.

Fox Footy’s projection: 14.45 wins, finishing 5th

Collingwood survive late Adelaide scare | 02:02

6. SYDNEY SWANS (11-6, 120.8%)

Remaining games

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: 95%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 18th-hardest (Easiest)

Saturday night’s excellent win in the west was one of those moments where you go “jeez, Sydney’s pretty good… how the hell did they lose to Essendon again?!”

If they had won that one, the Swans would be in the top four eight now and a clear favourite to remain there. Instead, they just look like the most dangerous team outside the four, and despite Collingwood’s one-win advantage are probably the best chance to break into it.

As long as they don’t get all ‘oh, we’re gonna lose to a bad team for no reason again’, the Swans can easily reach 14 wins. Most would expect 15. And going 5-0 from here is entirely plausible.

Round 22 against Collingwood is the swing game. The winner there should almost certainly finish above the other, and be ready to swoop on a top four spot if Fremantle or Brisbane fall over.

We may have the Swans sixth on projected wins but it’s damn close. And if you’re doing the manual ladder predictor, tipping each game, we would totally understand you having them as high as third.

Fox Footy’s projection: 14.3 wins, finishing 6th

Swans light up against Fremantle | 02:14

7. CARLTON (11-6, 113.4%)

Remaining games

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: 95%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 7th-hardest

The blow of their loss to Geelong is softened somewhat by Richmond and Gold Coast’s losses, which make it close to certain the Blues will play finals.

Winning their next two would cement it, because we can’t see two of the teams below them reaching 13 wins.

But at the same time Sydney’s win in the west means the Blues have a bit of work to do. Favoured for seventh, they wouldn’t want to be forced interstate for their first final in nine years (and, ironically, back into the city where they lost their last one).

They can still catch Collingwood thanks to their stronger percentage. Both teams have two very tough games left, plus two where they should be favoured – let’s say they both go 2-2? – before the final round showdown.

We can easily see a Round 23 scenario where Carlton must beat Collingwood to ensure they play the Pies again in a 6 v 7 elimination final – or else head interstate to face Sydney, Brisbane or Fremantle.

Fox Footy’s projection: 13.55 wins, finishing 7th

‘This is for you Nobes’ | 00:35

8. RICHMOND (9-8, 115%)

Remaining games

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: 46%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 9th-hardest

Oh dear.

An almost automatic win against North Melbourne has been baked into Richmond’s projections for a while; they should’ve won (on expected score they won by four-plus goals), but poor goalkicking and more late-game brainfades cost them another close one.

This is why we had been saying Richmond was the strong favourite for eighth… as long as nothing went catastrophically wrong. Well, losing from 40 points up one week, then losing to one of the worst teams since the competition went national, counts as things going catastrophically wrong.

The only good news was Gold Coast’s loss to Essendon, which makes it much harder for anyone below the Tigers to reach 13 wins.

The Tigers are still our favourites for eighth, but barely, facing the same equation as the other nine-win teams St Kilda and the Bulldogs – two games against the bottom six, then three tough ones.

Getting to 13 wins would now be an accomplishment – they would either need to beat two top four teams, or one and a Port Adelaide side in Adelaide, where they’ve beaten the Swans, Suns and Dogs at home.

But they probably don’t need to reach 13. It’d help. 12 may be enough, as long as the wins are by big enough margins, and the Suns don’t blow out North Melbourne by 100 in the final round or something crazy.

The Tigers have the edge. We’d still be surprised if they missed the eight from here – but not shocked. It’s a genuine race.

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

Tiger BRAIN FADE costs shot at victory! | 00:30

9. WESTERN BULLDOGS (9-8, 112%)

Remaining games

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: 46%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 3rd-hardest

What a weekend for the Bulldogs, who impressed in a mini-final against the Saints (if by a margin that somewhat flattered them), and then watched the Tigers and Suns fall flat on their faces.

If 12 wins is enough to grab eighth, the Dogs can get there. Beat the Giants and Hawks, and pinch an upset over the next three with two of those games at Marvel (where they’re 6-2 in 2022). Doable.

The problem is they’ve become a bit… dare we say, flat track bully-ish? They’re 7-2 against the bottom 10 and 2-6 against the top eight – overall you’d expect teams to be better against worse opposition but the difference there is particularly stark.

So expecting the Dogs to beat a top-four team is a lot. But they only need to beat one to have a good shot at the finals. Beat two and they’re almost certainly in September.

The door is open. It’s up to them to walk through it.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.7 wins, finishing 9th

‘Mind-blowingly poor!’ King EXPLODES | 01:51

10. ST KILDA (9-8, 101.7%)

Remaining games

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: 46%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 8th-hardest

The Saints aren’t done after losing their mini-final to the Bulldogs, but they’re close, and in a worse position than Luke Beveridge’s men are.

Like the Dogs, the Saints need to bank their two wins against the bottom six and then pinch an upset or two. But the Saints’ percentage is much worse, so unless they really pump the Eagles and Hawks, they’re going to lose out.

Even if they pull an upset and reach 12 wins (or dare we dream of 13), if any of the other chasers do too, the Saints are probably screwed. So they need to keep winning and hope their ladder rivals don’t do the same.

It’s not a great spot to be in. And remember, they were fourth on the ladder heading into the bye. Quite the collapse.

Fox Footy’s projection: 11.6 wins, finishing 10th

11. PORT ADELAIDE (8-9, 106.9%)

Remaining games

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: 10th-hardest

They threatened to stay in the thick of the finals race, but Melbourne pulled away from the Power late, and from here it looks extremely difficult.

But not impossible. They need to win four of their last five, in particular beating Richmond, and we think Port are good enough to do that.

It requires them to be almost perfect but we can still see a path to September.

If they beat the Tigers, the Tigers would then need to beat Brisbane or Fremantle to join them on 12 wins; the Suns would need to beat Brisbane or Geelong, while the Bulldogs would need to beat one of Melbourne, Geelong or Fremantle, and the Saints would need to beat Geelong, Brisbane or Sydney.

So if all of those top four upsets don’t happen, and if Port wins four of five… they can get to 12 wins, mayyyyyybe as the only team there if everything goes their way, but at the very least in a winnable percentage race.

Even if they don’t make it, as we suspect, the Power have been a genuine top-eight level team since Round 6, which is encouraging for 2023.

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

Lion gets away with NRL style throw | 00:28

12. GOLD COAST SUNS (8-9, 104.7%)

Remaining games

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

This should’ve been a perfect weekend for the Suns; but their inability to take care of business against an admittedly-improved Essendon side has cost them dearly.

Instead of sitting just outside the eight, and arguably being the favourites to finish eighth, they’ve given the Tigers a let-off and need help to play finals.

After all, now Gold Coast needs an upset over a top four team just to reach 12 wins, and must be perfect to reach 13.

And their percentage makes them unlikely to make the eight on 12 anyway – unless they go into Round 23 knowing they can sneak in by totally demolishing North, and we get one of those live ladder watching afternoons which we love so dearly.

It’s hard to know which hurts more; losing so badly vs Essendon, or the close ones vs Collingwood and Port Adelaide. But all three have done the damage.

Fox Footy’s projection: 10.8 wins, finishing 11th

WON’T PLAY FINALS

13. HAWTHORN (6-11, 89.7%)

Remaining games

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: 4%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 12th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 8.2 wins, finishing 14th

Hawks soar past Eagles | 00:56

14. ESSENDON (6-11, 86.1%)

Remaining games

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: 4%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 15th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 8.3 wins, finishing 13th

15. GWS GIANTS (5-12, 87.4%)

Remaining games

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: 0%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 5th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 7 wins, finishing 16th

16. ADELAIDE CROWS (5-12, 83.8%)

Remaining games

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: 0%

Remaining fixture difficulty: 17th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 7.25 wins, finishing 15th

17. WEST COAST EAGLES (2-15, 57.4%)

Remaining games

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: 6th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 3.45 wins, finishing 17th

Kangas FINALLY win over luckless Tigers | 03:42

18. NORTH MELBOURNE (2-15, 54.3%)

Remaining games

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: 13th-hardest

Fox Footy’s projection: 3.2 wins, finishing 18th

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