If you haven't been paying much attention to them lately, you may not have noticed that Geelong's season is kind of hanging in the balance. In seventh spot, just a ahead of three other teams, the Cats haven't been so average looking at the Round 17 mark in some five or so years. Their game against Collingwood last weekend was very disappointing. Geelong have shown they can be thoroughly outplayed this season. A lot of us haven't seen this before.
Essendon was able to bounce back nicely last week against Port Adelaide after a no-show performance against the Saints a week before that and should prove to be a great test on Friday night.
G In: Jordan Murdoch Out: Allen Christensen
E In: Angus Monfries, Stewart Crameri
The Mapgpies against the Hawks will be an excellent duel. Collingwood are one of two, maybe three, elite teams in the comp this year, and the Hawks aren’t that far behind them. Hawthorn's demolition of the Bulldogs last week moved them up into the third position on the ladder, but if there's been a legit knock on this team in 2012, it has been their inability to win against true contenders. Collingwood's biggest question mark, the play of Travis Cloke was answered last week when Chris Tarrant proved he can still be a target in the 50.
C In: Tom Young, Paul Seedsman Out: Martin Clarke, Simon Buckley
H No changes
Injuries were a factor, but West Coast’s big loss to Sydney at home in Round 16 was shocking. It dropped them all the way down to fifth, but I still believe they are the goods and will reenter the top four. Big WC inclusions: Beau Waters, Ashton Hams and Quinten Lynch.
Adelaide moved into second spot on the premiership ladder with their third consecutive win. The home ground advantage will help. So too will the return of Kurt Tippett and Graham Johncock.
A In: Michael Doughty, Graham Johncock, Kurt Tippett, Brad Symes, Andy Otten, Jared Petrenko Out: Chris Knights, Brodie Martin, Ricky Henderseon, Sam Shaw, Tom Lynch, Luke Brown
WC In: Quinten Lynch, Beau Waters, Ashton Hams Out: Mitch Brown, Koby Stevens, Tom Swift
Despite the sensational win over Richmond for their first of 2012 and Brisbane’s ability to occasionally win a game, the Suns-Lions matchup is not one worth watching. Sorry.
GC In: Luke Russell, Tom Lynch Out: Daniel Stanley, Aaron Hall
B In: Jared Polec, Ryan Lester Out: Daniel Rich, Patrick Karnezis
Melbourne-Port, don’t bother.
M In: Lynden Dunn, Jake Spencer, Neville Jetta, James Magner Out: Matthew Bate, Mark Jamar, Jamie Bennell, Jordie McKenzie
P In: Domenic Cassisi, Jasper Pittard Out: Jarrad Redden, Darren Pfeiffer
A Carlton win on Saturday night will effectively put them back into top eight contention, but their season is all but over now, isn’t it? Two weeks ago they looked to have turned everything around by knocking off Collingwood in a special performance, but last week’s loss to North only sealed the deal for me; this team has wasted what should have been a fantastic season for the navy blues. Marc Murphy will be asked to carry a huge load after just one game back from a long stint on the side lines as Judd (suspension) and Walker (calf) go out of the team. The Blues also lose Matthew Kreuzer and Lachie Hendersen. All four are big blows.
The Western Bulldogs are also up there, or down depending on which way you look at it, in terms of having the most disappointing 2012. They are hard to watch if you’re a fan of club and unwatchable if you aren’t. Solid rookie Tory Dickson is out with an abductor injury, but the welcome return of Daniel Giansiracusa will help.
WB In: Daniel Giansiracusa, Jarrad Grant, Patrick Veszpremi, Daniel Pearce, Mark Austin Out: Ryan Hargrave, Lukas Markovic, Justin Sherman, Clay Smith, Tory Dickson
C In: Paul Bower, Jordan Russell, Bret Thornton, Levi Casboult, Tom Bell Out: Andrew Walker, Chriss Judd, Matthew Kreuzer, Lachie Henderson, Kane Lucas
Sydney- St Kilda will be interesting. St Kilda moved percentage points ahead of North and Fremantle for eighth spot with wins in their past two games, despite the absence of Brendan Goddard, while Sydney have impressed mightily as they hold onto first position.
There is a lot on the line for the Saints, a loss sends them back into a pack of six biting on Geelong’s heels. Goddard and Jack Steven return for the Saints.
S In: Trent Dennis-Lane, Tony Armstrong, Tommy Walsh Out: None
STK: Brendan Goddard, Jack Steven, Terry Milera Out: None
North, like St Kilda, are in the same situation. To lose against Richmond will be a damaging case against their finals hopes after a very solid month of football (four wins, one loss). They receive a very vulnerable Richmond, losers of two straight, who sit in 11th, a win a 13 percentage points behind St Kilda.
Dropping a five minute, three goal lead against the winless Suns in Round 16 was unforgivable and the Tiger fan base are furious. Good news though, apparently Dustin Martin has used his two week club imposed ban to train the house down and should be ready to go. The league's best ruckman, Ivan Maric is also back after a one week absence.
R In: Daniel Jackson, Jayden Post, Dustin Martin, Brad Miller, Ivan Maric Out: Jake Batchelor, Tom Derickx
Fremantle-GWS has been put to the back on the schedule for obvious reason. The game won’t draw huge amounts of attention and rightfully so, but quietly Fremantle are building strongly and are within earshot of the eight. Worth noting though, the run that has them there has been beyond easy. Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have been their recent scalps and they looked very poor for five of the eight quarters in those games. Not convinced.
F In: Zac Clarke, Jay van Berlo, Jesse Crichton, Peter Faulks, Nick Suban Out: Chris Mayne, Greg Broughton
GWS In: Kurt Aylett, Josh Bruce, Tomas Bugg, Jon Giles, Anthony Miles, Andrew Phillips, Jacob Townsend, Gerald Ugle, Mark Whiley, William Hoskin-Elliot, Sam Frost Out: Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton, Stephen Coniglio, Taylor Adams, Devon Smith, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes, Adam Kennedy