This year represents the 10th under the current system of finals, a system I think has much to recommend it. It certainly seems to - justifiably, I'd argue - favour those teams that have proven their credentials across the entire season.
The table below shows how the finals have played out over the 10 years:
This next table summarises, on a one-week-of-the-finals-at-a-time basis, how teams from each ladder position have fared:
Of particular note in relation to Week 1 of the finals is the performance of teams finishing 3rd and of those finishing 7th. Only two such teams - one from 3rd and one from 7th - have been successful in their respective Qualifying and Elimination Finals.
In the matchups of 1st v 4th and 5th v 8th the outcomes have been far more balanced. In the 1st v 4th clashes, it's been the higher ranked team that has prevailed on 6 of 10 occasions, whereas in the 5th v 8th clashes, it's been the lower ranked team that's won 60% of the time.
Turning our attention next to Week 2 of the finals, we find that the news isn't great for Adelaide or Lions fans. On both those occasions when 4th has met 5th in Week 2, the team from 4th on the ladder has emerged victorious, and on the 7 occasions that 3rd has faced 6th in Week 2, the team from 3rd on the ladder has won 5 and lost only 2.
Looking more generally at the finals, it's interesting to note that no team from ladder positions 5, 7 or 8 has made it through to the Preliminary Finals and, on the only two occasions that the team from position 6 has made it that far, none has progressed into the Grand Final.
So, teams only from positions 1 to 4 have so far contested Grand Finals, teams from 1st on 6 occasions, teams from 2nd on 7 occasions, teams from 3rd on 3 occasions, and teams from 4th only twice.
No team finishing lower than 3rd has yet won a Flag.