Friday 7:50pm AEDT
It seems not long ago that Port Adelaide was the second favourite for the flag behind Richmond and considered the best challenger.
Fast forward six weeks and they find themselves outside of the eight, needing to win and relying on other results to get them into the finals.
In their favour is that Essendon’s season was finished last week when they lost to the Tigers, so they have nothing but pride to play for here.
The Power needs to get the four points here to put some pressure on Geelong, in the extremely unlikely event that they lose to Gold Coast.
The Bombers have pretty much been playing elimination finals the past six weeks and with their mind now turned to Mad Monday - rather than finals - Port Adelaide should be able to get the win here.
You could mount a case for Essendon being the most in-form team in the competition at the moment though, so it’s hard to see a blowout being on the cards.
We’re tipping Port Adelaide in a close result but it’s hard to know what to read into this match.
Best Bet: Port Adelaide -10.5
Value Bet: Essendon/Port Adelaide half/ full-time double
Boy oh boy, get the record books out because this may be one the biggest lines ever seen.
The handicap is currently -75.5 points for the Cats after their demolition job on Fremantle over the weekend.
With the Swans’ upset over the Giants, the incentive of a potential home final with a big victory over the Suns is now gone, so the Cats may not be as ruthless as they might have been.
Gold Coast has been playing for the end of the season for quite a while now and a trip to a freezing cold Kardinia Park is probably the last thing the Suns wanted.
On paper, this looks like it should be a 20-goal victory to the Cats.
The only question mark is whether Geelong’s experiments with their team potentially manipulate who they play in the finals. Would the Cats rather finish seventh and play the Giants or eighth and play Hawthorn?
Gold Coast has nothing to lose though and may go down swinging whilst taking a few bodies, while the Cats will be trying to avoid getting injured with finals two weeks away.
For that reason, we are tipping Gold Coast at the line.
Best Bet: Gold Coast +75.5
Value Bet: Geelong to win by 20-29 points
Everyone will be on Jack Riewoldt watch in this match as he closes in on another Coleman Medal.
The Tigers have plenty to play for as there are a few spots up for grabs and a Premiership medallion is there for the taking.
The Bulldogs have hit a bit of form the last few weeks with Jack Macrae a very important inclusion, while they have unearthed another ball magnet with Josh Dunkley’s move into midfield yielding impressive results.
There are a couple of Bulldogs like Mitch Wallis and Jordan Roughead who are out of contract and have other clubs to impress, so the boys from Windy Hill could put up quite a fight in this match.
Richmond’s class will be too good in the end but we’re tipping the Bulldogs to be right with them until three-quarter time.
Dunkley has had a very impressive eight weeks in the midfield, averaging 29 disposals. He amassed 36 touches last week, admittedly against a less skilled midfield than Richmond, but we still think he represents good value at $6.50* to get 35 again.
Best Bet: Western Bulldogs +39.5
Value Bet: Josh Dunkley to have 35 disposals
It seems impossible to believe, but somehow Collingwood has flown under the radar and now they enter the final round and a chance to make the top two.
Despite only beating one top-eight side all season (Melbourne twice), a win for the Magpies and a loss by West Coast would seem them claim second position.
They face a Fremantle side coming off one of their worst performances ever and you never know what you will get in the final round when it comes to Ross Lyon.
Lyon was one of the reasons the bye week prior to the first week of the finals was introduced as the Fremantle coach rested half of his team in 2014.
The Dockers have been battered in the Perth press this week and the pressure will be on them to perform against Collingwood, with a long off season on the cards for Lyon and co if they don’t.
Fremantle will show something but we’re tipping Collingwood to get the job done in the end.
Best Bet: Fremantle +34.5
Value Bet: Fremantle/ Collingwood Half/Fulltime double
With South Australian underage stars Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine widely tipped to be selected in the top three of the draft this year, there is a conspiracy theory amongst Adelaide supporters that they may tank this game against Carlton in order to finish as low as possible and get a higher draft pick.
There are a couple of holes in that theory. One being if Essendon wins on Friday, the Crows will already be locked into 12th position.
The Blues are in a position where a win for them would not affect their coveted number one draft pick.
It does mean the $7.50 for a Blues win could be worth a little wager, with both teams having not much to play for after disappointing seasons.
Carlton will have several players that are out of contract at the end of this season and are potentially playing for their careers.
Adelaide will have fewer if any, players in that boat, so Carlton could be more desperate.
For that reason, we are going to back Carlton at the line and have something small on the Blues to cause an upset.
Best Bet: Carlton +41.5
Value Bet: Carlton to win
This clash has a history of throwing up some weird results.
In fact, the last five times that Hawthorn and Sydney met, the match has been won by the underdog.
With that in mind, we reckon the Hawks could be one of the best bets of the round.
Hawthorn hasn’t lost at the SCG since 2010, winning its last four matches there, including three as the underdog.
We still think that all the bookies are underrating Hawthorn. No doubt they have been controlled by the best coach in the competition and if you forget about two outlier results when they were dismantled by their former captain Luke Hodge, they have had the second-best season after Richmond.
They should be second favourite to win the Premiership, yet $12* is still available (and $30* for Tom Mitchell to win the Norm Smith).
The last four matches between these two sides have all been won by single-figure margins, so the Hawks by 1-9 points is our value bet of the round.
Best Bet: Hawthorn to win
Value Bet: Hawthorn by 1-9 points
West Coast has a lot to play for now after its loss to Melbourne last week.
If the Eagles go down to the Lions and either Hawthorn or Collingwood wins, Adam Simpson’s side will slip out of the top two and will miss out on a pivotal two finals at home.
This match is a must win for the Eagles, given their recent history at the MCG.
A win for Brisbane will not affect their draft position unless St Kilda causes an upset against North Melbourne.
The Eagles could be without Jack Darling after he suffered a concussion in their loss to Melbourne on Sunday, and Josh Kennedy is still unlikely to return.
West Coast is a different side without those two spearheads and we’re tipping Brisbane, who has been one of the form teams in the competition since the bye, to cause an upset and win this match.
The $2.55* for Brisbane won’t last long if it is confirmed that Darling will miss the match, so it could be worth getting on the Lions before Thursday night.
Best Bet: Brisbane to win
Value Bet: Brisbane to win by 40+
Melbourne’s drought-breaking win last week against West Coast that secured its position in the finals for the first time since 2006, would have lifted a huge weight off the shoulders of the Demons.
Now up for grabs is a home final and there is a slight chance of a top-four position as well if Collingwood loses to Fremantle.
The Giants have a lot to play for with a home final on the line for them as well.
GWS has been hit hard by injuries and they will be sweating on the fitness of their captain Phil Davis, with the backman’s injury arguably the reason for their loss to Sydney last week after his opponent Buddy Franklin ran amok.
We’re tipping the Dees will take the momentum from Perth into this match and will run all over the Giants.
The pressure would have been released massively off the Demons after securing their finals spot and they could post a big margin here.
Best Bet: Melbourne -15.5
Value Bet: Melbourne to be leading by 31+ points
If you were ranking the most disappointing sides of 2018, St Kilda would be on top of the ladder, while North Melbourne would claim the wooden spoon.
The Saints’ season has never really recovered since a dismal Good Friday clash against the Kangaroos, where they got belted in the final round in what was probably the worst match of the season.
With their loss to Adelaide last weekend, North Melbourne’s chances of making the finals are now shot so the only interest in this match is whether Ben Brown can win his first Coleman Medal.
The Saints are already without Nathan Brown due to suspension and Jake Carlisle missed last week due to the birth of his first son.
If Carlisle misses again and Hugh Goddard plays on Brown then a big bag could be on the cards, with the rookie defender likely to be too slow to stop Brown.
We think Ben Brown will kick a bag of five but the Saints won’t be blown away and should cover the line.
Best Bet: St Kilda +23.5
Value Bet: North Melbourne by 1-9 points