Adelaide Crows v West Coast Eagles
Ouch. Nic Naitanui's knee injury could be the knockout blow for the Eagles’ season. And they were looking so good, too. After two impressive wins over the Giants and Hawthorn, West Coast were knocking on the top four's door, but their superstar ruckman tore his ACL against the Hawks, and is out for the rest of this season. It's a telling blow and will really hurt when they come up against a white-hot Adelaide in Adelaide on Friday night. The Eagles need a win against the second-placed Crows to keep their hopes of gaining a double chance alive. We don't think they will, and are on Adelaide to win by at least 30 points ($2.15 with Luxbet) and Crows star Eddie Betts to slot the first goal. He kicked five against the Power last week.
Geelong Cats v Melbourne Demons
Trust Melbourne to not turn up when their season is on the line. There was plenty of chatter about the Dees stepping up their push for a finals berth with a big win over Carlton last week, but they were shocking in a 20-point loss. While Melbourne have nothing to play for this Saturday arvo, Geelong need a win to guarantee their place in the top four and should get the job done pretty easily at Kardinia Park, where the Dees have won just twice in their past 19 visits. The Cats can't afford to drop this one and we don't think they will. Back Geelong to win by at least 36 points ($2.05 with Luxbet) but Melbourne's Dom Tyson to continue his hot streak and get at least 30 touches ($1.91 with Sportsbet). He has not got fewer than 29 in his past five games.
Essendon Bombers v Carlton Blues
The Blues snapped a nine-game losing streak when they beat Melbourne on Sunday and have the chance to finish 2016 on a high note when they take on Essendon at the home of footy this weekend. The Blues had two late withdrawals before round 22, but Jack Silvagni (soreness) and Sam Kerridge (illness) will both return this Saturday afternoon. For the Bombers and their team of top-ups, the end of 2016 can't come quickly enough and although it hasn't been all bad - they've won two games, after all - there will be no fairy-tale finish. The match will be Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney's last in the AFL. Our coin is on Carlton to win by at least five goals ($2.25 with Luxbet) and a 'no' in bet365's 'Both teams to score' market. Their benchmark of 69 points is paying $2.
Sydney Swans v Richmond Tigers
Sydney must win this game to claim the minor premiership - so it's a good thing they're playing Richmond. Swans fans must have had their hearts in their mouths last week when Lance Franklin limped off Bellerive Oval in their clash against the Roos - but he returned to the field after half-time and is expected to play this week. Tigers forward Ben Griffiths, who has missed three of the past four games with a groin injury, will not make the trip to the SCG. The Swans' huge percentage means they're safe in the top four, but they could still drop out of the top two with a loss. We reckon they'll win by at least 10 goals on Saturday ($2.65 with Luxbet) and the first scoring play will be a Swans goal ($2.85 with Unibet).
Gold Coast Suns v Port Adelaide Power
This is a clash between two teams that will be waiting for the end of the season. The Suns were really disappointing in their 71-point belting by Collingwood in round 22 while the Power gave a pretty good account of themselves in the Showdown but still lost. Port's Logan Austin will make the trip to the Glitter Strip after missing last week's defeat to Adelaide with groin soreness. There's little to play for, other than pride, in this clash on Saturday night. Our hard earned is on Port Adelaide to score first and win ($2.45 with Unibet) and Ollie Wines to get at least 30 touches ($2.25 with Sportsbet).
North Melbourne Kangaroos v Greater Western Sydney Giants
Forward Shaun Higgins, who has not played since round seven due to a knee injury, will return for the Roos in a bit of good news before the finals. Melbourne's loss to Carlton last week meant that North's spot in the top eight is safe, and now they can start planning for an elimination final. The Giants, who are fifth, need to win and hope one of the teams above them loses if they are to break into the top four. We reckon they'll be too good at Docklands on Saturday night, so we're backing them to get up by at least four goals ($2.45 with Unibet). We're also on the Giants to score between 76-90 points ($3.75 with Sportsbet).
St Kilda Saints v Brisbane Lions
It's highly likely that the Saints will finish equal with eighth-placed North Melbourne on wins, but miss the finals because of their abysmal percentage. St Kilda host Brissy at the Dome this Sunday in a match they really should win easily. It's tough to make a case for the Lions, who have won only three games for the year. So, we won't. Back St Kilda to win by at least 10 goals ($2.20 with Luxbet) and the Saints to score between 106-120 points ($4.20 with Sportsbet). The Lions concede, on average, 129 points per game but St Kilda are not the highest scoring team in the league.
Fremantle Dockers v Western Bulldogs
This one is all about Matthew Pavlich for Freo. The Dockers champion and former long-time skipper will hang up his boots after Sunday's clash against the Bulldogs at Subi and it's a shame his side will not be able to send him out on a winning note. Obviously, Pavlich will return to the Dockers team after he was rested for last week's annihilation at the hands of GWS, while Aaron Sandilands will return from injury and take his place in the ruck for the purple team. The Bullies need to win to keep their hopes of earning a home final alive, and we think they will. Back the visitors to get up by at least 40 points ($3.05 with Luxbet) but both sides to be goalless for the first five minutes ($4 with Sportsbet).
Hawthorn Hawks v Collingwood Magpies
The fourth-placed Hawks can't afford to slip up against Collingwood. Their percentage of 119 is the sixth best in the AFL and a loss would almost certainly see them relinquish the double chance. Hawthorn also can't take the Pies lightly. Collingwood were pretty impressive in a 71-point victory over Gold Coast at the weekend. The Hawks were outclassed last Friday night in Perth in a loss to the Eagles, and will be without ruckman Jonathon Ceglar (knee) at the 'G this Sunday. With so much on the line however, we think they'll beat Collingwood and are going for the brown and gold machine to get up by at least 36 points and Jack Gunston to kick the first goal.