1. Geelong

56 points (14 wins, four losses), 135.7 per cent
The Cats' win over Sydney gave them an important buffer of four points and percentage over West Coast and Brisbane at the top of the ladder. They head straight to Perth from Sydney to prepare for next week's clash with Fremantle, before heading back to Geelong to face North Melbourne. A massive game against Brisbane at the Gabba and another home game against Carlton will finish the season, and the Cats should be good enough to book home-state advantage throughout the finals. - Adam Curley

The run home
R20: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R21: North Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Brisbane @ Gabba
R23: Carlton @ GMHBA Stadium

2. West Coast

52 points (13 wins, five losses), 116.5 per cent
The Eagles picked up three valuable percentage points with their 49-point win over North Melbourne and edged ahead of the Lions, but there will be some tense times on the run home. West Coast needs to get the job done in the next two weeks, and then the Richmond clash at the MCG looms large for the top-two fight. Win that, and Adam Simpson's men look likely to get two home finals, but a loss could mean travelling in the first week of September. - Travis King

The run home
R20: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Adelaide @ Optus Stadium
R22: Richmond @ MCG
R23: Hawthorn @ Optus Stadium

3. Brisbane

52 points (13 wins, five losses), 116.2 per cent
The Lions have won six in a row for the first time since their peak period in 2002, and have already ensured they will play finals after securing their 13th win overall. Three home games at the Gabba, the last of which looms as a potential top-of-the-table clash with Geelong, should continue to boost confidence levels before a final-round blockbuster against Richmond at the MCG. The outcome of those last two encounters will likely determine where the Lions qualify. - Ben Collins

The run home
R20: Western Bulldogs @ Gabba
R21: Gold Coast @ Gabba
R22: Geelong @ Gabba
R23: Richmond @ MCG

4. Richmond

48 points (12 wins, six losses), 109.4 per cent
Five wins on the trot has the Tigers back inside the top four and it's hard to see them being displaced if they can continue their recent rich vein of form. Spearhead Tom Lynch (five goals) did the damage on Friday night when the Tigers disposed of fellow top-four hopeful Collingwood at the MCG and Damien Hardwick's side play all their remaining four matches at the same venue over the next month. - Jonathan Healy

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The run home
R20: Melbourne @ MCG
R21: Carlton @ MCG
R22: West Coast @ MCG
R23: Brisbane @ MCG

5. Greater Western Sydney

44 points (11 wins, seven losses), 122.7 per cent
The Giants have set themselves up beautifully for a charge towards the top four, having beaten Collingwood and Port Adelaide in back-to-back weeks. But while they don't face another top-eight side for the rest of the season, the Giants can't get complacent against crosstown rival Sydney, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs, before they finish off away to Gold Coast in round 23. While they look set to be without defender Sam Taylor with a hamstring injury, the Giants should regain veteran Brett Deledio for the Sydney Derby, while gun midfielder Josh Kelly is a couple of weeks away from returning from a calf injury. - Lee Gaskin

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Axed Crow stars, big Tigers gets through

The run home
R20: Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R21: Hawthorn @ UNSW Canberra Oval
R22: Western Bulldogs @ Giants Stadium
R23: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium

6. Collingwood

44 points (11 wins, seven losses), 108.7 per cent
The Magpies' top-four hopes are hanging by a thread after their disappointing 32-point loss to the in-form Tigers on Friday night. Nathan Buckley's side has now lost four of their past five matches and their lengthy injury list continues to grow, with superstar forward Jordan De Goey (hamstring) the latest victim. The good news is they have winnable games against Gold Coast and Melbourne over the next fortnight that may help them find some of their best form. - Jonathan Healy

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The run home
R20: Gold Coast @ MCG
R21: Melbourne @ MCG
R22: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Essendon @ MCG

7. Essendon

44 points (11 wins, seven losses), 104.3 per cent
With five straight wins under the belt, the Bombers have set themselves up for not only a tilt at hosting a week one elimination final, but an outside chance at the top four. The next three opponents are all tricky, but Essendon will start favourites. Providing they take care of business, the final round blockbuster against the Magpies could be crucial in jockeying for top eight positions.

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The run home
R20: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R23: Collingwood @ MCG

8. Adelaide

36 points (nine wins, nine losses), 107.5 per cent
It's starting to get nervous for Adelaide. In the top eight by virtue of the fact Port Adelaide and Hawthorn couldn't close the gap this weekend, it will look at its last month and question both whether it can compile enough wins to ensure it qualifies for the finals, and whether it can pinpoint a game that it can start building confidence ahead of September. It will fancy its chances at home to St Kilda next week, though back-to-back games against last year's Grand Finalists will be difficult. Adelaide will hope it won't have to travel to Ballarat in round 23 needing a victory to ensure finals footy. At least two wins in the next three weeks might mean that situation doesn't ultimately unfold. - Riley Beveridge

The run home
R20: St Kilda @ Adelaide Oval
R21: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium

9. Western Bulldogs

36 points (nine wins, nine losses), 96.7 per cent
Beating Fremantle was a non-negotiable if the Bulldogs were to launch a finals assault, and they ticked that box with ease. Now comes the tough part against a series of fellow post-season contenders. The Dogs may need to win them all to make September for the first time since winning the 2016 flag, given their sub-100 percentage. At best, they can afford to drop just one. We'll see how realistic their bid is when they travel to Queensland to face the red-hot Lions next week. - Marc McGowan

The run home
R20: Brisbane @ Gabba
R21: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R23: Adelaide @ Mars Stadium

10. Port Adelaide

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses), 102.1 per cent
Incredibly, despite losing four of their past five games, the Power are still in the mix for the finals, but can't afford another slip-up from here on. Saturday's clash with Essendon could all but decide their season. Get past the Bombers, and the draw opens up with games against Sydney, North Melbourne and Fremantle to finish. Power co-captain Ollie Wines is a chance to return from a fractured thumb to face the Bombers, while they might also recall key forward Charlie Dixon. - Lee Gaskin

The run home
R20: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R22: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval 

Robbie Gray recovers from a heavy tackle against the Giants. Picture: AFL Photos 

11. Hawthorn

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses), 99.9 per cent
Any team coached by the masterful Alastair Clarkson can never be completely discounted until they are absolutely, positively, incontrovertibly out of the equation. The wayward Hawks' loss to Brisbane in Launceston has all but finished them off, but if they win their last four and other results go their way they can still make it – hence, our hesitation to put a line through them. Assuming they knock of North on Friday night, a Canberra clash with Greater Western Sydney should prove too difficult. If not, West Coast in Perth in the final round should extinguish all hope. It'll be fun if they remain alive for that long.- Ben Collins

The run home
R20: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Greater Western Sydney @ UNSW Canberra Oval
R22: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R23: West Coast @ Optus Stadium

12. Fremantle

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses), 93.2 per cent
That loss to the Dogs might have extinguished the Dockers' finals hopes. They're mathematically still a chance, but will have to win their remaining four games – and even then, their percentage will hurt them. Freo will probably be the underdog in all of those matches, including its home contests with Geelong and Essendon, so only an unlikely turn of events would see Ross Lyon's men feature in September. A better aim might be to try to reach double-digit wins. - Marc McGowan

The run home
R20: Geelong @ Optus Stadium
R21: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Essendon @ Optus Stadium
R23: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval

13. St Kilda

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses), 85.0 per cent
Somehow, there's a pulse. The Saints are 2-0 under Brett Ratten, and could have Jack Steven, Dan Hannebery, Josh Battle and Jimmy Webster coming into the side next week. It seems incredible for a side that has been ravaged by injuries and saw Alan Richardson depart as coach, but if Ratten can keep this side's form up, finals are a possibility. Next up is Adelaide, a side stuck in a slump. Win that, and who knows what could happen. - Dinny Navaratnam

The run home
R20: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Carlton @ MCG
R23: Sydney @ SCG

14. North Melbourne

28 points (seven wins, 11 losses), 95.6 per cent
Three straight losses and a percentage hit in the defeat to West Coast has almost spelled the end for the Kangaroos' finals charge, but there remains a glimmer of hope. If Rhyce Shaw can inspire his side to victory in all four of their remaining games then the door could remain ajar to sneak into eighth spot, but with a logjam of teams in the race it's almost impossible to see things falling North's way from here. A loss to finals rival Hawthorn on Friday night would be the hammer blow. - Travis King

The run home
R20: Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena