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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

While preparations for Grand Final parties around the globe continue to take shape, the final three rounds of the AFL season will bring fans plenty of excitement. There will be heartbreak for some, as eleven teams remain in Finals' contention with only eight spots up for grabs. The top five - Fremantle, West Coast, Hawthorn, the Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans - have all but locked up a place in the post-season, but there is a traffic jam of teams vying for positions six through eight. What better time to run the slide rule over the remaining rounds and see if we can work out who makes the major round – and who is left to pick up the pieces?

Here are the 11 teams still with a chance to play finals and a look at their run home.

1. Fremantle Dockers (64 points, 16 Wins, 3 Losses, 124.7 per cent)
The Dockers have yet to lock up a top two finish after going down to crosstown rivals the West Coast Eagles in a Round 20 upset. With the Eagles and Hawthorn still within striking distance, Fremantle must win two of its remaining three games to guarantee itself an all-important home ground Final. With tough games against North Melbourne and Port Adelaide away from home to come, there is still plenty of work for the League leaders to do in the last three rounds. Remaining games:
Round 21: North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium
Round 22: Melbourne at Domain Stadium
Round 23: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval

2. West Coast Eagles (58 points,14W, 4L, 1 Draw, 148.3 per cent)
Flying high after a win over arch-rivals Fremantle, the Eagles are in great shape for an all important top two finish. Despite their excellent form and with two home games to come, the Eagles can’t afford to slip up against a red hot Western Bulldogs at home or an equally hot Adelaide in the next two rounds. With Hawthorn just a half game behind in the standings with an easy draw to come, there is no time for the Eagles to bathe in the glory of their sensational win against the League leaders. Remaining games:
Round 21: Western Bulldogs at Domain Stadium
Round 22: Adelaide at Adelaide Oval
Round 23: St Kilda at Domain Stadium

3. Hawthorn Hawks (56 points, 14W, 5L, 160.3 per cent)
The reigning Premiers look primed to make a run at the game's biggest prize once again. With easy games against struggling bottom of the Ladder teams Brisbane and Carlton in the final two rounds, only Port Adelaide stands in the way of the Hawks winning out the rest of the regular season. All it would take is a misstep from the Eagles or the Dockers above them for the Hawks to swoop on a top two finish. If that happens, the rest of the finalists will be shaking in their collective boots as Hawthorn strives for a rare AFL premiership “three-peat”. Remaining games:
Round 21: Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium
Round 22: Brisbane Lions at Aurora Stadium
Round 23: Carlton at the MCG 4. Sydney Swans

4. Western Bulldogs (52 points, 13W, 6L, 123.2 per cent)
The fairy tale team of the season without doubt, the Bulldogs have been on a complete rampage of late, rocketing the club into contention for a coveted Top Four position that brings with it a “double chance” in the Finals. With three rounds to go, it looks as though Sydney is the only team below the Bulldogs that could realistically steal fourth place from them should they falter. Tough contests against North Melbourne and West Coast will determine the Bulldogs' final position in the post-season pecking order, as their round 23 clash should see them win comfortably over the Brisbane Lions. Wherever they finish, the Bulldogs will go into the Finals as the sentimental favorites for causal AFL fans everywhere. Remaining games:
Round 21: West Coast at Domain Stadium
Round 22: North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium
Round 23: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba

5. Sydney Swans (52 points, 13W, 6L, 112.5 per cent)
There was good and bad news from the Swans spirited win against a tough Collingwood in Friday night’s big match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The win puts the Swans right back in the mix for a Top Four finish, but they unfortunately lost one of their best players in Luke Parker to a nasty leg injury. Parker will miss the rest of the season which is a savage blow to the Swans premiership hopes. With winnable games to finish the regular season against the Greater Western Sydney Giants, St. Kilda and the Gold Coast Suns, the Swans are in the box seat to steal fourth position if the Western Bulldogs falter. Remaining games:
Round 21: GWS at Spotless Stadium
Round 22: St Kilda at Etihad Stadium
Round 23: Gold Coast at the SCG

6. Richmond Tigers (48 points, 12W, 7L, 114.5 per cent
Richmond was looking good for a solid finish to the season after defeating the heavily favored Hawthorn, however a heavy loss to Adelaide just one week later has left them in a precarious position as the home and away fixture comes to a close. Despite smashing the Gold Coast Suns by 83 points in Round 20, the Tigers have probably let a Top Four finish slip from their grasp. With tough games against traditional foe Collingwood and nemesis North Melbourne on the run home, it is anyone’s guess where the Tigers will finish up. This week’s match against Collingwood at the MCG is pivotal to Richmond’s fortunes in 2015. Win and they are almost guaranteed to make the Finals. Lose, and there will be some extremely nervous Tiger fans with two rounds remaining. Remaining games:
Round 21:Collingwood at the MCG
Round 22: Essendon at the MCG
Round 23: North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium

7. North Melbourne Kangaroos (48 points, 12W, 7L, 111.8 per cent)
North Melbourne seems intent on taking Richmond’s mantle as the most schizophrenic AFL club in the competition. One week they play like millionaires, the next they are just as likely to perform like paupers. Having said that, the Kangaroos are heading into the final few rounds in good form, having survived an early scare against St Kilda in Round 20. With arguably the toughest run home having to face fellow Finals' aspirants Fremantle, the Western Bulldogs and Richmond, their destiny is firmly in their own hands. With four teams below them lying in wait for them to stumble, North Melbourne has to find consistency on the home stretch. Remaining games:
Round 21: Fremantle at Etihad Stadium
Round 22: Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium
Round 23: Richmond at Etihad Stadium

8. Adelaide Crows (46 points, 11W, 7L, 1D, 111.4 per cent)
The Adelaide Crows have played their best football for the season over the last two weeks, comfortably defeating Richmond at home before demolishing Essendon in Melbourne. With a shrinking injury list and growing confidence, the Crows are primed to return to Finals footy for the first time since 2012. With an easy game against the Brisbane Lions in Round 21, the Crows can lock up a Finals' spot with a win against the Eagles in Adelaide in Round 22. If the Crows fail to take the Eagles down, they will face up to Geelong away from home in the final round, with the likely scenario that the winner finishes eighth and the loser packs up their uniforms for another season. Remaining games:
Round 21: Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval
Round 22: West Coast at Adelaide Oval
Round 23: Geelong at Simonds Stadium

9. Geelong Cats (42 points, 10W, 8L, 1D, 101.9 per cent)
Geelong is chasing Adelaide for the last spot in the Finals but results on the weekend conspired against the Cats. Beating the Hawks was always unlikely, but the Crows' whopping win over Essendon and their resultant percentage boost did the Cats no favors. They'll be hoping that the Eagles knock over the Crows in Round 22, because that makes the season finale against Adelaide - provided the Cats win their next two - a 'win and get in' clash. Simonds Stadium may not be large enough to cope with the huge crowd of Cats' fans who will gather, no doubt boosted by some staunch traveling Crows' fans. With a game in hand and superior percentage, the Crows seem to have the Cats covered for that coveted eighth spot. If the Eagles defeat the Crows in their clash and the Cats take care of business against St Kilda and Collingwood over the next two weeks, it will be a last man standing Geelong vs Adelaide match in Round 23. Remaining games:
Round 21: St Kilda at Etihad Stadium
Round 22: Collingwood at the MCG
Round 23: Adelaide at Simonds Stadium

10. Greater Western Sydney Giants (40 points, 10W, 9L, 100.9 per cent)
In 2015 the fledgling Giants have made massive progress towards becoming an AFL powerhouse. Their young talented playing list is coming into its own and with plenty of talent remaining untapped, we can expect to see the charcoal and orange liveried team as a regular Finals combatant in years to come. With three games remaining, if the Giants can overcome their crosstown rivals the Sydney Swans this weekend they will remain an outside chance to steal a Finals spot if any of the teams above them falter. With winnable games against Carlton and Melbourne in the last two rounds, the Giants still have plenty to play for over the next few weekends. Remaining games:
Round 21: Sydney Swans at Spotless Stadium
Round 22: Carlton at Spotless Stadium
Round 23: Melbourne at Etihad Stadium

11. Collingwood Magpies (36 points, 9W, 10L, 110.4 per cent)
Collingwood still has a mathematical chance of making the Top Eight and appear in the post-season, however they would have to win all three of their remaining games and hope other results fall in their favor. Narrow losses throughout the year will more than likely mean the Magpies will fall short, but with games against Richmond and Geelong in the next two rounds, they can still have plenty to say about the make-up of the Finals by the end of Round 23. All eyes will be on the MCG this week when the Magpies take on Richmond in a game with massive Finals' implications. Remaining games:
Round 21: Richmond at the MCG
Round 22: Geelong at the MCG
Round 23: Essendon at the MCG

So who do you have as your Finals' contenders? Round 23 will be one of the most anticipated final home and away season rounds in years, with the following two matches - Richmond vs North Melbourne, and Adelaide vs Geelong - deciding who plays Finals and who goes home and watches. I have punched the scenarios into the trusty AFANA Commodore 64 computer, and the ticker tape that spat out tells me the Top Four teams will be Fremantle, Hawthorn, West Coast and the Bulldogs. Making up the remaining positions in my Finals' series will be Sydney, the Kangaroos, Adelaide and Richmond.

Strap yourselves in fans, the next three weeks of the AFL season are going to be quite the ride!

Article last changed on Friday, September 11, 2015 - 11:47 AM EDT


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