Week 1 finals: Will history repeat?
The AFL is eyeing a dream first week of finals with Geelong and Richmond on track to face-off in a replay of their blockbuster 2017 qualifying final.
With two rounds remaining in the home-and-away the Cats and Tigers look a big chance to again meet at the MCG, two years after Damien Hardwick's men took the honours on their march to the 2017 premiership.
SCROLL DOWN FOR CONTENDERS AND POSSIBLE WEEK 1 FINALS FIXTURE
But both teams have plenty of work to do before considering the possible showdown.
As fans assess the permutations in a bid to calculate match-ups in the opening week of the finals, the potential clash of the heavyweights appears a good chance.
The AFL's final-round scheduling could prove a masterstroke as the race for the remaining finals berths go down to the wire.
In fact, 13 clubs are still in contention to see September, with the final eight unlikely to be decided until the final day of the season.
The Herald Sun has taken a look at the possible scenarios for every club in contention.
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WHO: Geelong (1st), Brisbane (2nd), West Coast (3rd) and Richmond (4th)
Most experts have the current top four maintaining their places and securing a double chance.
Geelong and West Coast, while facing big tasks this week, both have winnable matches in Round 23 and should shore up their top-four spots, with percentage to decide whether finals are home or away.
The big cats - the Lions and Tigers - appear most vulnerable.
Brisbane, the season's surprise packet, plays the ladder-leading Cats followed by Richmond at the MCG. Two losses could see the Pies catch them, but given their healthy percentage one win should be enough to earn a double chance.
Richmond is a game behind the top three but does have a buffer over fifth-placed Collingwood. If Damien Hardwick's men win both then they have nothing to worry about. One loss and they could be overtaken.
DREAMING OF A DOUBLE CHANCE:
WHO: Collingwood (5th) and GWS (6th)
Both are still in contention to snatch a coveted top-four berth.
It's more likely for Collingwood who can get to 60 points with two wins - they play Adelaide (away) and Essendon (home) - and could climb should teams above them twice falter. Their best chance is to hope the Tigers lose one so they can jump them on percentage. At this stage the Pies seem most likely to finish 5th or 6th and host an MCG elimination final.
GWS is a game further back and can only get to 56 points - the same as the fourth-placed Tigers. So the equation for them is more straightforward. Win both, preferably by big margins, and hope either the Tigers lose both or the Pies go down at least once. The Giants seem destined to host an elimination final.
RACE FOR THE EIGHT:
WHO: Essendon (7th), Port Adelaide (8th), Adelaide (9th), Western Bulldogs (10th) and Hawthorn (11th)
Essendon and Port Adelaide are the incumbents on the bottom places in the eight. But can they hold on?
Adelaide, the Bulldogs and, to a lesser extent, Hawthorn remain live hopes.
Most of the chasers have their eyes on Essendon, who look a very real possibility of tumbling out after a horrible fortnight. If the Bombers win both their remaining games they're headed to September. But if the percentage-poor Dons win only one they might still be caught.
Port Adelaide has its destiny in its own hands. Beat North Melbourne and Freo and Ken Hinkley's team is finals-bound.
Adelaide needs one of the teams above to falter. Two crunch games remain - against Collingwood (home) and the Bulldogs (Ballarat). They really need to win both and hope their percentage does the job.
The Western Bulldogs, hitting form at the right time, have a tough draw but if they can win both they might be able to scrape in - especially given they'll be facing a fellow challenger in Round 23.
Hawthorn needs to win both of their remaining fixtures to get to 11 wins - and then pray results go their way. We can pencil in Alastair Clarkson's team for a win against Gold Coast this week, but a far sterner test awaits in Round 23, when they'll face West Coast in Perth possibly trying to secure a home final.
AND THE MIRACLE LONGSHOTS ...
WHO: Fremantle (12th), St Kilda (13th)
This is where we need to call in the mathematicians.
Stuck on nine wins and with a percentage under 100, Fremantle must beat Essendon at home and then storm Adelaide Oval and beat Port, who might also be playing to lock in a September slot.
Eleven wins could be enough to scrape in especially considering they have the chance to derail some ahead of them in the queue, but that percentage is a concern.
As for St Kilda ... remember Steven Bradbury? Well, the Saints are Bradbury and those teams above them are his rivals.
Brett Ratten's men must beat Carlton (MCG) and Sydney (SCG) and hope for the best.
It's more than likely the Saints - with a percentage of 85.3 - will be out of calculations after Round 22, but where there's a way, there's hope.
IF THE (BOOKIES') FAVOURITES WIN EVERY MATCH:
Week 1 finals:
Qualifying final 1 (1v4) - Geelong v Richmond
Qualifying final 2 (2v3) - Brisbane Lions v West Coast
Elimination final 1 (5v8) - GWS v Adelaide
Elimination final 2 (6v7) - Collingwood v Port Adelaide
KEY POINTS: All of the top four would finish with 16 wins and on 64 points. Then it's a matter of percentage as to who finishes where. The Cats, thanks to their superb first half of the year, should stay clear of the rest. But it could get especially tight as the Lions, Eagles and Tigers try to boot their way into the top two and the rights to host a home qualifying final. Fourth might not be such a bad place for Richmond, forcing them to take on the Cats at the MCG. Remember 2017?