AFL run home: Who makes finals? And what will the top four look like?

Entering round 13 and the second week of the bye, we thought it would be wise to take a look at the run home and how the ladder could look come finals time.

A realistic look at the ladder suggests that only 12 teams can make finals come the end of the season, with the race for a top four finish proving to be closer than previous years.

Melbourne has opened up top spot, losing two games consecutively and coming against an in-form Collingwood side on the traditional Queen’s Birthday clash.

Richmond host Port Adelaide at the MCG as footy returns to Thursday night in a do-or-die clash for the Power.

The Saints return from the bye, all freshened up, and travel to the Gabba to take on fellow top four contender in Brisbane, being arguably the game of the round.

Carlton also face traditional rivals, Essendon on a Friday night at the MCG with a depleted backline headlined by the absence of All-Australian candidate Jacob Weitering.

The Cats and Swans have the week off whilst Fremantle will be challenged by a travelling Hawthorn at Optus Stadium.

Historically, 15/16 wins guarantees a top four finish, whilst 13 should almost lock up a spot inside the eight and a chance at premiership success.

Here’s the run home:

1. Melbourne

40 points (10-2 – 141.2 per cent)

Melbourne’s run home would’ve been deemed challenging, but not too difficult a fortnight ago.

Facing seven matches against top eight sides in their remaining 10 games, including Collingwood and Brisbane twice, the confidence surrounding the Demons has wavered of late and they don’t seem to have any easy beats in their midst.

However, Melbourne face Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), Port Adelaide (TIO Stadium) and Western Bulldogs (Marvel) as part of their bid for back-to-back premiership glory.

Although still favourite for the flag and a top four finish, Fremantle and Sydney have created a blueprint to beat the reigning premiers, proving that they are not invincible, despite their 9-0 start to 2022.

Melbourne’s last four weeks in the home-and-away season is also noteworthy, finishing off with Fremantle, Collingwood, Carlton and the Lions to round out the year.

Prediction: 3rd (16-6)

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2. Brisbane

36 points (9-3 – 134 per cent)

Despite their win/loss record, Brisbane’s last month of football hasn’t been their best, losing to Hawthorn and Fremantle and scrapping through against a valiant Giants side.

Coming up against St Kilda, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in their next three games could dictate how likely the Lions are to make top four and cement their premiership credentials.

Brisbane’s remaining matches have a 5-5 split between top eight sides and bottom 10, however that includes matches against Gold Coast and Richmond, both clubs vying for finals but currently out of the eight.

Of those five matches against top eight sides, the majority of those are positioned in the final three rounds, making for a tense run to the finish line.

Prediction: 2nd (17-5)

3. Fremantle

36 points (9-3 – 129.9 per cent)

Fremantle’s past fortnight has been nothing short of impressive, defeating essentially seeds one and two of the competition in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Of their remaining games, they come up against top eight sides only four times, however face the Bulldogs, Tigers and Power in their run home.

According the ladder position and recent form, the Dockers have a decent stretch of games that will allow them to push for a top two finish and arguably set up their chance to win their first flag in the AFL.

Prediction: 4th (16-6)

4. Geelong 

32 points (8-4 – 127.6 per cent)

Geelong’s run home is arguably the easiest of those vying for September action.

They currently play only three sides in the top eight of their remaining matches, with Melbourne, Carlton and St Kilda being tough tasks ahead.

However, the Cats face the Eagles twice, as well as North Melbourne and will look at those as percentage-boosting opportunities.

Although, dates with the Tigers, Power, Suns and Bulldogs will test the ageing side, these games will ultimately define where they finish on the ladder.

Prediction: 1st (18-4)

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5. St Kilda

32 points (8-3 – 123.8 per cent)

One of the surprise packets of the season, St Kilda has set up their back half of the year in fine fashion, sitting amongst 2022’s genuine contenders at the halfway mark.

However, the Saints face difficult times ahead, with seven of their matches being against top eight sides, including the Lions twice.

Brett Ratten’s men are expected to beat West Coast and Essendon but will be tested against Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs.

St Kilda finish the year off with the difficult tasks of Geelong, Brisbane and the Swans in the last three rounds.

Prediction: 7th (14-8)

6. Sydney 

32 points (8-4 – 118.8 per cent)

Sydney enters the bye off the back of two extraordinary wins against Richmond and Melbourne.

Their stretch home consists of four games against top eight sides, including St Kilda twice, whilst also coming up against North Melbourne and Essendon.

The Swans will expect to challenge the top four for a spot and will have full confidence, given their draw, that they’ll be able to achieve it.

Prediction: 5th (16-6)

7. Carlton

32 points (8-3 – 112.9 per cent)

Carlton have jumped into top four contention, with an impressive start to 2022 and creating a good launching pad for a return to finals for the first time since 2013.

Falling only to Fremantle, Gold Coast and Collingwood narrowly, the Blues are in a strong position and the game against Essendon after the bye is the perfect way to kick off the second half of the year.

Carlton face six sides from the top eight in their remaining matches as well as coming up against a struggling West Coast and Adelaide in the stretch home.

Prediction: 6th (16-6)

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8. Collingwood

28 points (7-5 – 103.1 per cent)

Arguably the greatest surprise packet of the year, headed by a new coaching department, Collingwood has shot up the ladder in a year the public pegged them bottoming out.

Their remaining 10 games has four matches against top eight sides, with two of those against the Demons as well as arch rivals Carlton and Sydney.

If the Pies are to make finals, they must beat teams like North Melbourne, Adelaide, Essendon and GWS which will set up their tough last three games of the year.

Prediction: 9th (13-9)

9. Western Bulldogs

24 points (6-6 – 118.5 per cent)

Western Bulldogs have found it difficult to recapture their 2021 form, sitting with an even win/loss record as they enter the bye.

Six games of their run home are against top eight sides, while the other four games are against GWS and Hawthorn.

One of the tougher draws in the second half of the year, the Dogs would only be expected to beat the Giants, with Hawthorn a difficult task.

Prediction: 11th (10-12)

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10. Richmond

24 points (6-5 – 117.4 per cent)

Richmond were on a four-game win streak before narrowly and controversially losing to Sydney by six points before they had a week off.

The Tigers only play four top eight sides for the remainder of the season, whilst also taking on Port Adelaide twice.

They also come up against easy beats in North Melbourne and West Coast and would see Essendon as a game they’d want to add some much needed percentage.

Expect their run toward finals to be thrilling, with the 2020 premiers a high chance of playing in September.

Prediction: 8th (13-9)

11. Gold Coast 

24 points (6-6 – 108 per cent)

On track for their best season in their short history, Stuart Dew has the Gold Coast playing some exciting and watchable football, splitting wins and losses evenly.

Their run home consists of only three games against the top eight, including Collingwood who may momentarily be in there.

They play North Melbourne, West Coast, Essendon and Adelaide in matches they are expected to win which will set them up for a shot at finals.

Could this be the year the Suns make September?

Prediction: 10th (12-10)

12. Port Adelaide

20 points (5-6 – 104.9 per cent)

Probably the last side in the competition with a realistic chance of playing finals in 2022. Starting the season off 0-5 didn’t help but a four-game win streak put them back in the mix.

Playing five sides in the eight on the run home, everything will need to go right for Port Adelaide, including starting off with a win against the Tigers at the MCG.

The Power’s season could be made and broken in the next two weeks, with tough asks against the 2020 premiers and a surging Sydney outfit.

Port Adelaide also don’t have any easy beats except for Essendon, who proved to be a challenge in their last match.

Prediction: 13th (8-14)

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