And Then There Were Eleven ...

Well last weekend's results certainly altered the finals landscape, leaving all of the teams currently in ladder positions 1 through 11 with legitimate dreams of playing in September and all of the teams in positions 1 through 7 with hopes for a top 4 finish and the double chance.

With the aid of the latest ELO projections, let's take a look at what's left for the teams in contention.

St Kilda have probably the easiest run home of all the teams in the competition. They face 9th placed Essendon away (hence the '9', the 'Ess' and the 'A' in the entry for St Kilda for Round 20, which is coloured green because ELO predicts the Saints will win this game), 13th placed Kangaroos at home, and then last placed Melbourne away. So, give them three wins and 1st place, with only the Dons as a realistic threat to a 22 and 0 home-and-away season.

Geelong have a slightly more challenging finish, starting with faint-hope finalists Sydney away this weekend, followed by the Dogs away, and then Fremantle at home. They should win all three of these games; regardless, they finish 2nd.

Collingwood face the in-form but out-of-contention Richmond this weekend, before matching up with the Swans in a game that'll matter much more to the Swans if they've knocked off the Cats in Round 20. In the final round the Pies take on the Dogs, but by that point they will most likely have secured 3rd place.

The Western Bulldogs have an horrendous last 3 weeks of the home-and-away season comprising contests with teams no lower than 5th on the ladder. First up is an away game with the Lions, then a home game against the Cats, and, finally, another home game, this one against the Pies. ELO has them winning 2 of these 3 contests and therefore securing 4th spot on percentages, but it's easy to see them dropping another 1 or even 2 of these games and missing a top 4 spot.

Carlton have what could be described as an awkward finish to the season, including as it does two teams that are in finals contention: Port Adelaide, who they play away this week, and Adelaide, who they play at home in the final round. In the middle they have the 4-point insurance that comes from playing the Dees. ELO has the Blues winning 3 and they should at least manage 2, making them a possible top 4 finisher.

Adelaide also have an awkward finish, starting with the 'surprised to still be in it' Hawks away this weekend, followed by the Eagles at home, and rounding out with a tricky away contest against the Blues. ELO's credited them with 2 wins, though you could make a good case for 1 or for 3 wins. The Crows should comfortably make the 8 and might yet surprise and jag a top 4 spot, but I'd treat this as unlikely.

If awkwardity is quantifiable (or, indeed, even a word) then the Brisbane Lions have more of it in their run home than any other team. This weekend they face the Dogs at home, then Port again at home, and, lastly, Sydney away, who might still have a sniff at that point but probably won't. ELO's giving the Lions just 1 win from that lot, but 2 is conceivable, even 3 if the gods of oblate spheroids are smiling on them. They'll make the 8 but almost certainly not the top 4.

Hawthorn can, amazingly, lose again this week - to the Crows at home - but still sneak into the finals with back-to-back wins against Richmond away and Essendon at home to complete a 10-12 season and pip Port on percentages. One possibility is that the Hawks will face the Dons in Round 22 with a place in the finals at stake for both of them.

Port Adelaide could also slip into the 8 with just 40 points and having lost 2 of their last 3 games. They face Carlton at home this week, then the Lions away and the Roos at home. If they can win 2 of these then the Hawks will need to win all 3 of theirs to deny Port a finals berth.

Essendon will probably finish just 1 win short of the finals. They play Saints at home this week, then Freo away and then the Hawks also away. It might, as I noted above, all come down to the Round 22 clash with the Hawks.

Sydney have the faintest of finals hopes, but would need to topple the Cats at home, Collingwood away, and then the Lions at home to realise that dream. Frankly I think I'm more likely to win Lotto - and I don't even buy tickets.

For the rest of the teams it's all about draft picks and dealing with tanking speculation.