THERE are just eight rounds to go as the race to lock in a finals berth heats up. 

The top five teams look to have put a gap on the rest of the contenders, with ladder leader Melbourne sitting pretty a game clear on top. 

But the battle for the last three spots in the finals is wide open after shock losses by Richmond and Greater Western Sydney gave hope to a handful of teams that looked all but done. 

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

Who's still in the mix? Check out your club's finish to the season below. 

Collingwood, Gold Coast, Hawthorn and North Melbourne have not been considered.

1. Melbourne

48 points (12 wins, two losses), 131.4 per cent
Melbourne has breathing space both at the summit of the ladder and inside the top four, but it will be a difficult run-in and the club must maintain its lofty form from the first half of the year to retain that standing. Half of its final eight games come against fellow top-eight sides, while it is also staring at three interstate trips and a journey down the highway to GMHBA Stadium in its last batch of fixtures. The Demons have laid the platform for a terrific year. Now, they must execute when it really counts. A gap at the top – and a gap inside the top four – should help them do exactly that. - Riley Beveridge

The run home
R16: GWS Giants @ MCG
R17: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R18: Hawthorn @ MCG
R19: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R20: Western Bulldogs @ MCG
R21: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R22: Adelaide @ MCG
R23: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium

2. Western Bulldogs

44 points (11 wins, three losses), 148.6 per cent
A critical road win against West Coast has the Bulldogs one game clear now in second spot and in pole position to earn a home qualifying final. Their challenge now is to hold their ground until gun midfielders Adam Treloar (ankle) and Josh Dunkley (shoulder) return in the final stride to September. Clashes against three bottom-six teams in the next month give the Bulldogs a launching pad into what should be a top-of-the-table clash against Melbourne. If things fall their way, that could present an opportunity to snatch top spot. Six of their last eight games are scheduled in Victoria, but they have shown they have the resilience to hold up on the road under COVID-19 challenges. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R16: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R17: Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
R18: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R19: Adelaide @ Mars Stadium
R20: Melbourne @ MCG
R21: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium
R23: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium

3. Brisbane

40 points (10 wins, four losses), 131.5 per cent
Following Thursday's win over Geelong, the Lions are set up for a tilt at the top four – and should have their sights set even higher. On paper they have a relatively soft draw over the final eight weeks, with Richmond (away) and West Coast (home) the only opponents currently in the top eight. Brisbane travels just once in the final month, with a trip west to play Fremantle. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R16: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R17: St Kilda @ Gabba
R18: Richmond @ MCG
R19: Hawthorn @ MCG
R20: Gold Coast @ Gabba
R21: Fremantle @ Gabba
R22: Collingwood @ Gabba
R23: West Coast @ Gabba

4. Port Adelaide

40 points (10 wins, four losses), 122.2 per cent
Port Adelaide's thrilling victory over Sydney was pivotal for its top-four chances, with the win helping the Power leapfrog Geelong into fourth spot. Ken Hinkley's men should account for Hawthorn next week, but will face a real test against the top-of-the-table Melbourne at home the week after. Proving their worth against a fellow contender will bolster their top-four credentials significantly, particularly with winnable games against St Kilda and Collingwood to follow. - Luke Michael

The run home
R16: Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium
R17: Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval
R18: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R19: Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval
R20: GWS Giants @ Manuka Oval
R21: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Carlton @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium

5. Geelong

40 points (10 wins, four losses), 120.6 per cent
Despite the hiccup against Brisbane, Geelong is still well placed to push for the double chance. Essendon will be a tricky proposition next week, but a match the Cats will start favourites in, while dates with Richmond and Melbourne represent the only challenges from teams currently inside the eight. Although they play on the road four straight weeks – two of which are currently scheduled for the MCG – the Cats have a nice run into finals with the final three matches in the comfortable surrounds of GMHBA Stadium. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R16: Essendon @ GMHBA Stadium
R17: Carlton @ MCG
R18: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R19: Richmond @ MCG
R20: North Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena
R21: GWS Giants @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: St Kilda @ GMHBA Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium

6. Sydney

32 points (eight wins, six losses), 106.6 per cent
Sydney will rue its inability to overcome fellow contender Port Adelaide on Saturday, but its finals hopes were helped by Richmond's shock loss to St Kilda the night before. The Swans face a difficult three-week stretch, coming up against top-eight sides West Coast and the Western Bulldogs before facing the dangerous Giants. If they can get through that tough phase with a win or two their draw will open up – with their remaining games for the season all against teams currently outside the top eight. - Luke Michael

The run home
R16: West Coast @ SCG
R17: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R18: GWS Giants @ Giants Stadium
R19: Fremantle @ SCG
R20: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R21: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R22: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Gold Coast @ SCG

7. West Coast

32 points (eight wins, six losses), 102.6 per cent
The Eagles dropped a crucial home game against the Western Bulldogs, which now leaves them fighting for their spot in the top eight rather than charging for the top four. It was a season-shaping result, with the percentage hit leaving them vulnerable ahead of a clash against Sydney, which leapfrogged into sixth in round 15. The Eagles have four home games remaining, including a difficult clash against Melbourne. They can't afford to drop those, with a round 23 clash against Brisbane at the Gabba shaping as critical. The Eagles are fit, but Luke Shuey and Tim Kelly need to find form quickly. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R16: Sydney @ SCG
R17: North Melbourne @ Optus Stadium
R18: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R19: St Kilda @ Optus Stadium
R20: Collingwood @ MCG
R21: Melbourne @ Optus Stadium
R22: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R23: Brisbane @ Gabba

8. Richmond

28 points (seven wins, seven losses), 101.5 per cent
The Tigers' Friday night thrashing at the hands of St Kilda didn't end up too costly with top-eight aspirants Essendon and Greater Western Sydney also losing. The Tigers should get back on the winners board this week against the Suns and have Collingwood the following week, before a tough back-to-back fortnight against Brisbane and Geelong. They would be favoured to win their last four games although Fremantle in Perth will be a challenge. With the top-four now out of sight, the reigning back-to-back premiers will need to go the long way if they are to secure a third straight flag. - Callum Twomey

The run home
R16: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R17: Collingwood @ MCG
R18: Brisbane @ MCG
R19: Geelong @ MCG
R20: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R21: North Melbourne @ MCG
R22: GWS Giants @ Giants Stadium
R23: Hawthorn @ MCG

9. Fremantle

28 points (seven wins, seven losses), 93 per cent
A wobbly Richmond has opened the door for Fremantle, but Justin Longmuir's side will have to bank the few clearly winnable games (Carlton, Hawthorn, possibly St Kilda and Richmond) and hope to pinch a couple against the top-eight sides. Hosting Geelong at Optus Stadium helps somewhat, but Sydney and Brisbane away loom as tougher asks. In a huge boost, skipper Nat Fyfe (shoulder) will return next week, while the Dockers are hoping the integral Matt Taberner's calf injury is minor  - Sarah Black

The run home
R16: Carlton @ Optus Stadium
R17: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium
R18: Geelong @ Optus Stadium
R19: Sydney @ SCG
R20: Richmond @ Optus Stadium
R21: Brisbane @ Gabba
R22: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R23: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium

10. Greater Western Sydney

26 points (six wins, seven losses, one draw), 96.2 per cent
After a shock loss to lowly Hawthorn, the Giants will certainly have earned their spot in the coming weeks if they manage to play finals this year. A tough run home will make it hard to find six more victories and get to the 12 wins usually needed to make the final eight. The Giants have only two matches to play against teams already out of finals contention, but even if they win those they’ll also need to beat fellow finals contenders Sydney, Essendon and Richmond then upset one of the three teams they play from the current top five to have a chance. The four points dropped against the Hawks looks like costing the Giants much more. - Martin Pegan

The run home
R16: Melbourne @ MCG
R17: Gold Coast @ Giants Stadium
R18: Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R19: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Port Adelaide @ Manuka Oval
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Richmond @ Giants Stadium
R23: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium

11. Essendon

24 points (six wins, eight losses), 101.9 per cent
Essendon's finals chances aren't over yet, but the club undoubtedly must improve on its ability to claim top-eight scalps with games against Geelong, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs within its run home. It can take positives from the fact it will enjoy a five-match stretch of consecutive fixtures on its home deck at Marvel Stadium, while it only leaves Victoria once – to play the out-of-form Gold Coast – in its final eight games. But it's only beaten one side above 12th on the ladder all year, and must improve upon that if it is to stand a chance of reaching September. - Riley Beveridge

The run home
R16: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R17: Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R18: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R19: GWS Giants @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R23: Collingwood @ MCG

12. St Kilda

24 points (six wins, eight losses), 82.1 per cent
St Kilda's slim finals chances received a massive boost on Friday night, with their surprise victory over Richmond keeping them within reach of an unlikely bid at the top-eight. They still need everything to go right from here, including likely toppling a couple of Brisbane, Port Adelaide and West Coast in order to make it. Their poor percentage means they are almost another win behind their other top-eight contenders. - Callum Twomey

The run home
R16: Collingwood @ MCG
R17: Brisbane @ Gabba
R18: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R19: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R20: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Sydney @ SCG
R22: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R23: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium

13. Carlton

20 points (five wins, nine losses), 91.4 per cent
The Blues' season has some hope after their win over the Crows, and although the road to finals is tough, their draw does open up. Next weekend's match against Fremantle – at this stage scheduled for Optus Stadium – could be a defining one. Carlton then has its following five matches in Melbourne, four of which are against teams outside the top eight. If they’re good enough, the door is ever-so-slightly ajar to make a run. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R16: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R17: Geelong @ MCG
R18: Collingwood @ MCG
R19: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R20: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R23: GWS Giants @ Marvel Stadium

14. Adelaide

20 points (five wins, nine losses), 86.9 per cent
After narrowly losing to Carlton, the Crows have a difficult run ahead, starting with the rampaging Lions. The positive spin is five of their final eight matches are scheduled for Adelaide Oval. The negative? Five of the remaining eight are against teams currently in the finals race. Adelaide won't start favourites in many, so if it's to make an unlikely run for September action, the best place to start would be an upset of Brisbane next weekend. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R16: Brisbane @ Adelaide Oval
R17: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R18: West Coast @ Adelaide Oval
R19: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium
R20: Hawthorn @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Melbourne @ MCG
R23: North Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval