The Ladder's Still Full of Opportunities

The top 8 of the MARS Projected Final Table after Round 18 differs from the current ladder only in that Adelaide and Collingwood trade places. MARS predicts that Adelaide will grab 4th spot on the back of four straight wins over the remainder of the season, skipping them past the Pies, who win only two more, beating Richmond and Sydney but losing to Adelaide and the Dogs.

Under the MARS scenario, 4th place will still be undecided as we move into Round 22.

Here's MARS' current projected final table and the predicted results that will produce it:

The key clash for Adelaide looms as the Round 20 matchup with the Hawks, which MARS has the Crows winning by a point. Assuming that Hawthorn lose in Round 19 to the Saints and beat Richmond and Essendon in Rounds 21 and 22, Hawthorn will need to down the Crows to have a chance at securing 8th spot, knocking Port out of the eight and relegating the Crows to 5th, behind the Pies.

Collingwood might otherwise grab a spot in the top 4 if they defeat the Bulldogs, as might the Lions if they, instead, beat the Dogs.

Essendon are projected to miss the 8 by two games, as MARS forecasts them to lose to the Lions, St Kilda and Hawthorn, securing a solitary victory over a floundering Fremantle in Round 21.

Sydney, though still a mathematical chance to reach 44 points and therefore press for a finals spot, would need to topple Richmond, Geelong, Collingwood and the Lions in successive weeks to do so, which seems about as likely at the moment as the AFL relenting and changing the rules for the draft.