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The run home: Forget top four, can Tigers make top two?

How high can the Tigers finish? - AFL,Tag-Analysis,Geelong Cats,Collingwood Magpies,GWS Giants,West Coast Eagles,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Port Adelaide Power,Fremantle Dockers,Richmond Tigers,Essendon Bombers,St Kilda Saints,Hawthorn Hawks,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Sydney Swans,Western Bulldogs,Melbourne Demons
How high can the Tigers finish?
1. Geelong

52 points (13 wins, four losses), 135.8 per cent
The Cats' surprise loss to Hawthorn on Sunday means they have lost a little grip on a certain top-two spot. They should still get it, but wouldn't want too many more poor showings like their day against the Hawks, with Brisbane and West Coast nipping at their heels. They should still win four of their next five before the finals, but three interstate trips in the next month will have its challenges, too. - Callum Twomey

The run home
R19: Sydney @ SCG
R20: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R21: North Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Brisbane @ Gabba
R23: Carlton @ GMHBA Stadium

2. Brisbane

48 points (12 wins, five losses), 114.9 per cent

Things are looking rosy for the Lions. After five straight wins they probably need just one more to lock away a spot in the top eight. The draw is tricky, but they've won three straight against next week's opponent Hawthorn, and would fancy themselves at home against both the Bulldogs and Suns. Just how high Brisbane finishes on the ladder could well come down to the difficult – but perfect finals preparation – final fortnight against the Cats and Tigers. - Michael Whiting

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The run home
R19: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium
R20: Western Bulldogs @ Gabba
R21: Gold Coast @ Gabba
R22: Geelong @ Gabba
R23: Richmond @ MCG

 
3. West Coast

48 points (12 wins, five losses), 113.5 per cent
The finish is tricky for the Eagles as they eye off a top-two spot. North Melbourne and Carlton are both in the bottom six but have been tough to beat under their interim coaches. Percentage is another factor to consider and will be crucial. West Coast's is similar to the teams it is sandwiched by on the ladder, Brisbane and Collingwood. The final three clashes will be against sides desperate for victory as they look to seal finals berths. The penultimate game against Richmond looms as especially massive. - Dinny Navaratnam

The run home
R19: North Melbourne @ Optus Stadium
R20: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Adelaide @ Optus Stadium
R22: Richmond @ MCG
R23: Hawthorn @ Optus Stadium

 
4. Collingwood

44 points (11 wins, six losses), 111.9 per cent
The Magpies' upset of West Coast the previous week is a distant memory after their disappointing loss to the Giants. They're hanging onto fourth spot by percentage but face a roaring fifth-placed Richmond at the MCG on Friday night. Two more games to follow at the MCG should produce wins but a tricky final fortnight could see the one-time premiership favourites miss out on a top-four spot. - Adam Curley

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The run home
R19: Richmond @ MCG
R20: Gold Coast @ MCG
R21: Melbourne @ MCG
R22: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Essendon @ MCG

Ben Crocker contemplates the Pies' heavy loss to the Giants on Saturday. Picture: AFL Photos

5. Richmond

44 points (11 wins, six losses), 107.5 per cent
The pieces are coming together for the Tigers and when coach Damien Hardwick starts nitpicking, you know they're going well. Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt combined for six goals in a comfortable win over Port Adelaide, with a mouth-watering Friday night clash against the Pies to come. Toby Nankervis, Josh Caddy and Kamdyn McIntosh are in contention to return for that contest. All five of Richmond's remaining games are at the 'G and a top-four finish seems likely. - Marc McGowan

The run home
R19: Collingwood @ MCG
R20: Melbourne @ MCG
R21: Carlton @ MCG
R22: West Coast @ MCG
R23: Brisbane @ MCG

 
6. Greater Western Sydney

40 points (10 wins, seven losses), 123.6 per cent
A stunning win over the Pies has revived the Giants' season and they're are now well and truly back in the hunt for a double chance after a wobbly six weeks. They face a tough test on the road against Port Adelaide on Saturday night, but then have four winnable matches to finish the year. Their healthy percentage gap over their nearest rivals could prove crucial in their quest for a top-four spot.  - Adam Curley

The run home
R19: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R20: Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R21: Hawthorn @ UNSW Canberra Oval
R22: Western Bulldogs @ Giants Stadium
R23: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium

 
7. Essendon

40 points (10 wins, seven losses), 103.9 per cent
The Bombers are flying, having won of six of their past seven games to give themselves a chance of hosting a final, or even challenging for a spot in the top four. They'll go in favourites in each game in the next month against sides currently sitting outside of the top eight. The Bombers also don't leave Victoria after they head to Gold Coast to face the Suns next weekend. They'll only get stronger with Orazio Fantasia, Zac Clarke and Jayden Laverde on track to return. - Lee Gaskin

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The run home
R19: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R20: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R23: Collingwood @ MCG

 
8. Adelaide

36 points (nine wins, eight losses), 110.2 per cent
Friday night's capitulation to Essendon – conceding 12 of the last 15 goals to give up a 30-point lead and lose by 21 points – has the Crows hanging on to a finals berth by the skin of their teeth. They should bounce back in the next fortnight against Carlton and St Kilda, but face a huge ask against last year's grand finalists West Coast and Collingwood. It could all come down to a tricky trip to Ballarat to face the improving Western Bulldogs in round 23. - Lee Gaskin

The run home
R19: Carlton @ MCG
R20: St Kilda @ Adelaide Oval
R21: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium

9. Port Adelaide

32 points (eight wins, nine losses), 102.3 per cent
The Power fell well short of Richmond at the MCG for its third loss in four starts, and it's now a win and percentage outside of the top eight with a reasonably tough stretch of games to come. Coach Ken Hinkley was unconcerned with his team's placing post-match, given the tight nature of the competition, but the next fortnight could decide Port's season. The back-in-form Giants won't be a pleasant guest at Adelaide Oval, while the red-hot Bombers at Marvel Stadium look a tricky encounter, too. - Marc McGowan

The run home
R19: Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R20: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R22: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval 

Matthew Broadbent and his Power teammates leave the MCG after the loss to Richmond. Picture: AFL Photos

10. Hawthorn

32 points (eight wins, nine losses), 101.9 per cent
You just can't write them off. The Hawks' finals hopes looked gone, but their upset win over Geelong on Sunday puts them back in the picture, only one win out of the top eight. It still looks like being a tough task, given they face Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney and West Coast in the last five weeks – all of whom are fighting for top-four spots. But they play well in Tasmania so will have some confidence against the travelling Lions. Win that, and who knows? - Callum Twomey

The run home
R19: Brisbane @ University of Tasmania Stadium
R20: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Greater Western Sydney @ UNSW Canberra Oval
R22: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R23: West Coast @ Optus Stadium

 
11. Fremantle

32 points (eight wins, nine losses), 96.2 per cent
The Dockers are back in the September mix, just, after arresting a four-game losing streak with a one-point triumph over the Swans, but qualifying for finals still looks a challenge from here. Fremantle needs to win at least three of the last five and likely more than that, and at best would only start favourites against St Kilda and Essendon, depending on form. It looks a bridge too far, but knocking over the Bulldogs next round would be a shot in the arm. - Travis King

The run home
R19: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Geelong @ Optus Stadium
R21: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Essendon @ Optus Stadium
R23: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval

 
12. Western Bulldogs

32 points (eight wins, nine losses), 93.4 per cent
What a missed opportunity. Victory on Sunday evening would have put the Dogs level with the Crows and out of the top eight on percentage only. However, their thrashing essentially leaves them two games outside the finals picture – given their poor percentage – with a tough few games left. They will start favourites against the Dockers at Marvel Stadium next week, before meeting four genuine finals contenders in the last month of the season – with two of those matches interstate. It would take a miracle from here. - Riley Beveridge

The run home
R19: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Brisbane @ Gabba
R21: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R23: Adelaide @ Mars Stadium

Nathan Brown and the Saints gave Bailey Smith and the Dogs a lesson on Sunday. Picture: AFL Photos

13. North Melbourne

28 points (seven wins, 10 losses), 98.7 per cent
The flickering finals hopes are all-but dead for the Kangaroos. After four wins from Rhyce Shaw's first five games in charge, they've lost in heartbreaking fashion the past two weeks against Essendon and Brisbane. Even a perfect five-from-five finish to the year – which looks unlikely at best and impossible at worst with road trips to West Coast and Geelong – would only get them to 12 wins. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R19: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R20: Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena

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14. St Kilda

28 points (seven wins, 10 losses), 82.9 per cent
Sunday's surprise victory keeps St Kilda in the finals hunt, but it remains a mathematical possibility in name only. Despite a relatively kind run home, with four of five games against teams not in the September hunt, the Saints won't be playing finals footy. - Riley Beveridge

The run home
R19: Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Carlton @ MCG
R23: Sydney @ SCG

 
15. Sydney

24 points (six wins, 11 losses), 95.4 per cent
It's curtains for the young Swans after their gallant one-point defeat in the west against Fremantle on Saturday night. They need to run the table from here to stand a chance and even that might not be enough. John Longmire can take holidays in September for the first time in his nine-season coaching career. - Travis King

The run home
R19: Geelong @ SCG
R20: Greater Western Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R21: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Melbourne @ MCG
R23: St Kilda @ SCG

Swans co-captain Dane Rampe after the heartbreaking loss to Fremantle. Picture: AFL Photos

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs