1. Patrick Cripps is the right man to lead Carlton out of its rut
In a bleak season for the Blues, second-year midfielder Cripps has been a ray of hope. The 20-year-old has become one of the team's most important players through the midfield, and he has taken on a responsibility as chief ball-winner. Cripps saved his best game of the year for Port Adelaide on Saturday, when he gathered 31 disposals, found nine clearances and laid 12 tackles. Cripps already has a sense of leadership to him: he has a cool and calm approach under pressure, and his tenacity around the ball spread through the Blues' line-up in their four-point win over the Power. Carlton is in for the long haul with its list overhaul, and the club is not planning for any quick fix as it hopes for a steady rise up the ladder, but having Cripps to build around is at least a good start. - Callum Twomey

2. Paul Roos will hand over a decent team to Simon Goodwin
The pressure has been building on Demons coach Roos after two weeks in which his coaching was question. Throughout it he maintained the team was improving under his care, but the doubters remained. They are fewer after Sunday's brilliant win over Geelong. The Demons won without standout forward Jesse Hogan and have a unearthed a midfield star in Angus Brayshaw. Jack Viney, Jimmy Toumpas, Billy Stretch and Alex Neal-Bullen look good too, with the injured Christian Petracca, Dean Kent and Jay Kennedy-Harris slotting into their best 22. - Peter Ryan

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3. The Hawks know how to share the load
The reigning premiers have their star attacking targets in Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston but their ability to generate scores from other sources will be key to a premiership defence. Hawthorn has averaged a competition-leading 9.4 goal-kickers a game so far this year but against Adelaide got majors from 13 individuals to bring down the Crows. Gunston and Roughead were both held goalless on Thursday night, yet the Hawks still managed to boot 17 with Luke Breust leading the way with three. Combined with pinpoint disposal, the Hawks will be difficult to stop if they receive similar contributions consistently. - Harry Thring

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4. Nic Nat's sparkling form could drive West Coast's top-four bid
Despite the external criticism of Nic Naitanui's low possession counts and tendency to flit in and out of matches, the Eagles always maintained how important the 201cm ruckman was to their side. And on Friday night against Richmond, the former No.2 draft pick took a major step towards silencing more of his doubters. Despite 'only' gathering 12 disposals, Naitanui was the dominant player on the ground with 33 hit-outs – 14 to advantage – five tackles and two first-quarter goals as he inspired West Coast to a potentially season-defining win. The Tigers simply had no answers to Naitanui's high-leaping, agility and pressure once the ball hit the ground at stoppages. It goes to show what a pre-season can do for a player's confidence and output, and the Eagles' top-four quest could hinge on a fully fit Naitanui in the second half of the season. - Travis King

5. Isaac Heeney isn't the only future star to come out of a NSW academy this year
The Swans forward has grabbed all the headlines, but Greater Western Sydney midfielder Jack Steele might have some say in this year's NAB AFL Rising Star award in the second half of 2015. The Canberra boy finally made his debut for the Giants against North Melbourne after dominating the NEAFL for two months, and looked at home in the big time. A ferocious competitor who has regularly racked up double figure tackles in the twos, Steele was cool under an avalanche of pressure against the Roos. In a midfield trounced by the Kangaroos, the tough 19 year-old had 17 touches, four clearances and laid eight tackles to be one of the Giants' best in a 56-point loss. - Adam Curley

6. 'Rough' is the future for the Bulldogs in the ruck
The Bulldogs made a decision in the third quarter against the Brisbane Lions to substitute ruckman Will Minson because they needed more run. It proved a wise call as the team, which had failed to shake their opposition, went on to kick 14 of the last 18 goals. Jordan Roughead moved into the ruck and, while he lost the hit-outs to Stefan Martin, he provided run and tackling pressure at ground level. Coach Luke Beveridge said the Bulldogs were likely to take the same ruck structure in next week, but time will tell who emerges as the most effective player in the Bulldogs' structure this year. On Saturday night's evidence, Roughead is the best fit for the running Dogs. - Nathan Schmook

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