1. Tough selection decisions loom on two Crows veterans 

Eddie Betts and Richard Douglas are much-loved at West Lakes, but they can't be considered walk-up starts anymore in the wake of Saturday's embarrassing 57-point loss to Port Adelaide in Showdown 47. Although Betts has kicked a respectable 26 goals in 15 games this season, he's gone goalless both times the Crows have faced the Power and Geelong. The 32-year-old's defensive pressure is also down, which is allowing the opposition to transition the ball quickly out of the backline. Douglas, also 32, has played the difficult half-forward role this season and is still finding his way back after missing the first half of the season with an ankle injury. The Crows are going to have make some tough calls, with first-year players Chayce Jones and Ned McHenry, along with Betts' protégé Tyson Stengle, banging the door down for an opportunity. - Lee Gaskin

THE RUN HOME Are there shades of 2017 about these Tigers?

2. We may have overrated Greater Western Sydney 

Maybe we're on auto-pilot when we constantly talk about the Giants as premiership contenders, because the way they're playing at the moment, they're no chance in 2019. They've been top-four mainstays this year but a closer look at their season shows that of their nine wins, only two have come against teams currently inside the top eight. They've lost three of their past four matches to Adelaide, Essendon – after being 19 points up in the last quarter – and Brisbane, and four of their last eight. After last week's disappointing fadeout against the Bombers the Giants were expected to respond fiercely against the Lions, but it never happened. The clash was supposed to be a chance to test Brisbane's credentials and while Chris Fagan's men passed with flying colours, the Giants failed miserably. They face Richmond (away), Collingwood (home) and Port Adelaide (away) over the next three weeks and must get the season back on track. - Adam Curley

BARRETT Weight of expectation could crush Pies' dreams

3. Damien Hardwick is about to have a nice headache 

With Jack Riewoldt on the cusp of returning from his long-term knee injury, Damien Hardwick has some juggling to do in his forward line. Although the opposition on Saturday was well below the standard of what Richmond will face in coming weeks, its small forwards roared to life. Surrounding Tom Lynch and improving Mabior Chol, the mosquito fleet that characterised the Tigers' 2017 flag was red-hot. Five goals to Jason Castagana, three to Kane Lambert, two to Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli and another clean and energetic performance from Sydney Stack (19 touches, one goal) gave Richmond a plethora of avenues to goal. Hardwick will have to shuffle his team to accommodate Riewoldt, and even if it takes time for he and Lynch to click (they've partnered just four times this season), the Tigers suddenly look supremely dangerous again inside their forward 50. - Michael Whiting

4. Sicily's such a great defender that he shouldn't go forward again

This is one we've 're-learned'. Hawk James Sicily, regardless of what you think of his antics on occasion, is a genuine star – so long as he's playing in defence. Sure, he has a bag of five goals to his name, another of four and a handful of threes. But this is a guy who would have been an All Australian backman last year if not for a broken wrist limiting him to 14 home and away games. Sicily's a majestic kick – who sometimes bites off a bit more than he can chew, but we love the boldness – a magnificent reader of the play and a superb intercept marker. The fortnight of flirtation with him as a forward again was a failure, as much for what it robbed Hawthorn's back half. Unfortunately, coach Alastair Clarkson said post-match on Friday night he "won't abandon that altogether". Hopefully only in an 'In case of emergency, break glass' scenario. The man the Hawks need to invest time into in attack is 20-year-old Mitch Lewis. - Marc McGowan

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Big Crow shines, tough Pie stats up

5. Nic Nat is still an elite ruckman

After two knee reconstructions, there were always going to be some doubts about how the spring-heeled West Coast star would come back, even if we saw him return as a force from his first ruptured ACL last season. In his first game back against Hawthorn at the MCG, there were signs Nic Naitanui was still incredibly influential, but in Saturday night's Western Derby he was jumping all over his long-time foe Aaron Sandilands and Rory Lobb, especially during the Eagles eight-goal second term blitz. Naitanui was doing it all, flipping hitouts to his midfielders, following up at ground level and pushing forward to create. To start the second term, Naitanui picked up one-handed before taking on tacklers and handballing to Jarrod Cameron for his first goal, setting the Eagles alight. Critics will always point to Naitanui's low possession and mark counts, but he was instrumental with 23 hitouts (and 14 disposals) in 52 per cent game time against Fremantle and had a match-high three score assists. He might never be able to play enough minutes to seriously challenge for All Australian honours again, but there is no doubt Naitanui strikes more fear into the heart of opposition coaches than any other Eagle. - Travis King

6. Sydney must keep John Longmire

The premiership coach is being wooed by his former club North Melbourne, but the Swans cannot let Longmire leave. If it takes a massive commitment, then so be it, because Longmire is worth it. Look at what he's done. Sydney looked absolutely ordinary after a 1-6 start but has somehow dragged itself to giving itself a sniff at making finals. That's very unlikely after a 10-point loss to Essendon on Saturday but the way the premiership coach has transformed this side (a change that has admittedly been going on for a few years) has been incredible. Whether it's Aliir Aliir showing his wares as a ruckman, James Rowbottom thriving in the contest, Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin producing eye-catching glimpses up forward, Jordan Dawson taking the football world by surprise or overseeing career-best campaigns from Tom Papley and George Hewett, Longmire has revitalised this group. He's contracted for 2020 but Sydney needs to ensure his tenure lasts longer than that. - Dinny Navaratnam

FANTASY FORM WATCH The Pig delivers again on tough week for coaches

7. McDonald's 2018 season wasn't a fluke

The criticism flowed thick and fast for Demon Tom McDonald as he kicked just three goals in the first seven rounds this year. McDonald booted 53 majors in a contract year last season, but that was alongside Jesse Hogan. With Hogan traded to Fremantle, his new sidekick is a lightly played top-10 draft pick in Sam Weideman. They struggled equally in the early stages as the Demons failed to cash in on their pre-season hype, with McDonald's form woes a key reason. There were even suggestions he might have been a one-hit wonder in attack, but those doubters are less vocal after recent weeks. He kicked three goals from 28 possessions in a victory over Fremantle a fortnight ago, then slotted six more with 20 disposals in just three quarters against Carlton on Sunday. A knee injury kept McDonald off the ground in the final term, but he's gone some way to re-establishing his reputation. - Marc McGowan

8. Sam Lloyd is one of the best bargain buys of the year

There was little fanfare when Richmond traded forward Sam Lloyd to the Western Bulldogs last year for pick 64. Lloyd had played 15 games over the previous two seasons, but been overtaken in the Tigers' forward half. The Dogs saw an opportunity to land an opportunist. Pound-for-pound, Lloyd has been one of the better value pick-ups of the season. He was excellent again on Saturday night for the Bulldogs, when he booted three important goals in their come-from-behind win over Geelong at Marvel Stadium. It took Lloyd's season tally to 25 majors, and he's leading the club's goalkicking board. The 29-year-old is in target of eclipsing his career-high goal tally, when he kicked 35 majors in 2016, and has helped provide some polish to the Dogs' front half. - Callum Twomey

9. Options aplenty for North up forward

Five-goal performances from Cameron Zurhaar and Nick Larkey will get the headlines for North this week. Their standout performances against the Saints on Sunday highlighted the main difference between the sides on the day – fully functioning forward set-ups. With Ben Brown adding another three of his own and Tarryn Thomas and Kayne Turner buzzing around the packs, the Roos looked dangerous just about every time they went forward. At the other end of the ground, however, the Saints appeared to be adopting a 'Josh Bruce or bust' approach to offence. Granted, the big forward did look imperious in booting four to half-time, and six for the game, but once Robbie Tarrant was moved to shut him down after the break, the goals dried up almost completely for St Kilda and the Kangaroos coasted to victory. - Stu Warren