AFL name game has merit (clone 1334633167)
AFL name game has merit (clone 1334633167)

About the toughest contract in football at the moment is predicting who will make the top eight.

As I see it, the certainties are Collingwood, Sydney, West Coast, Essendon, Adelaide and Hawthorn.

In the mix for positions seven and eight are Geelong, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Carlton, Richmond and Fremantle. Brisbane are the long shot.

The draw for the six teams vying for two spots will help shape the final outcome.

And most important, the matches that really count will be the ones when these teams play each other. They are the games listed on the whiteboard in the office of all the coaches.

Geelong have the toughest draw of any of the contenders and I reckon they won't finish with enough wins the make the eight. The era will end.

North Melbourne's critical games are almost with them. If they beat both Carlton (round 16) and Richmond (round 17) - or even one of them - then I can see them making the finals.

Carlton and St Kilda look shot. The injuries to the Saints have all but cruelled their hopes, though if they are in the mix right at the end then the round 23 match against the Blues will be a ripper.

The Blues will stay in the hunt if they can beat the Kangaroos and Richmond in the run home.

Richmond's fate, and that of Fremantle for that matter, could be determined by the result of their round 21 clash at Patersons Stadium.

But the Tigers have five very winnable games and would only need a victory over North, Carlton or Fremantle to clinch a spot.

For mine, I can see Richmond and North Melbourne playing finals.

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