If MARS Ratings are a reliable guide, the teams currently sitting in Finals positions on the competition ladder represent only six of the eight highest-Rated teams in the competition. Should the Dons be excluded or choose not to play Finals, the inclusion of Carlton - the most likely scenario - would increase that count by one, leaving the Roos as the unlucky outlier.
The weekend's results changed the MARS ranking of only two teams, the Crow's win and the Eagle's loss combining to lift the former over the latter on the MARS Ladder and also serving to elevate the Crow's Ranking over 1,000 and drop the Eagle's below 1,000. This leaves us still with nine teams Rated above 1,000 but also widens the Ratings gap between 4th and 8th positions to a season-high 29 Rating Points (RPs), and between 4th and 15th positions also a season-high 62 RPs.
Amongst the eight teams currently sitting in positions 1 through 8 on the competition ladder, five (Hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle, Richmond and Collingwood) have net acquired Ratings Points (RPs) over the past five rounds, while the remaining three (Sydney, Essendon and Port Adelaide) have surrendered RPs to their opponents. Collingwood, Fremantle and Geelong have been especially acquisitive, squirrelling over 36 RPs amongst them over these five weeks.
Broadening our view to take in the other Rating Systems tracked in MAFL we see that little has altered this week to change the overall complexion from being one of broad agreement about the relative abilities of the 18 teams.
There are still a handful of teams for which one Rating System or another has a somewhat different viewpoint, however - Colley in relation to Essendon, the Roos and Port Adelaide, and MARS in terms of Essendon and St Kilda in particular.
MARS' higher opinion of the Saints worked to its advantage this week, allowing it to correctly predict the outcome of the Saints v Suns game, a feat not achieved by any other of the Rating Systems and so allowing MARS to extend its lead over all-comers to 5 clear tips.
Predictions based on the ODM Component rankings fared particularly poorly this week, so much so that they allowed Colley to overhaul one of them (ODM Defence) and draw level with the other (ODM Offence). They are all still at least 10 tips behind MARS, however.
So, with just one home-and-away round to go, MARS is assured of finishing ahead of all the other Rating Systems.
Finally then, to MARS' weekly Team Rating worms, which highlight, amongst other things, the Ratings momentum coming into the Finals enjoyed especially by the Pies, Dockers and Cats, as noted earlier.