In this week's Nine things we learned, we discover that one good month papered over the long-term issues at Carlton, Geelong is ready to take Richmond's crown and there's still time for Tex to win the Coleman. 

1. The Blues' timing couldn't have been worse for Teague

With finals still in play after a much-improved month, the Blues produced their worst performance of the season in going down to North Melbourne by 39 points. The external review into the football department is still hovering over the club and Saturday's performance only increases the considerable pressure on coach David Teague. The 40-year-old performed admirably when taking over during the 2019 season, but this was the year Carlton was meant to seriously challenge for the top eight and instead it's staring down the barrel of an eighth straight finish without a finals appearance. Hard questions are going to be asked. - Ben Sutton

2. There's a sleeper in the NAB AFL Rising Star race

It is the most even battle for the Rising Star in recent years, with Greater Western Sydney's Tom Green, Melbourne pair Luke Jackson and James Jordon and Port Adelaide's Mitch Georgiades all considered the favourites. But Cody Weightman’s important 10-week stretch for the Western Bulldogs should also put him firmly in the mix for votes on the coveted award. Saturday night’s massive hanger over Max Gawn is one of the marks of the season, but aside from that Weightman has added genuine energy and buzz to the Bulldogs' mix and booted 17 goals from 10 games. Lively, tenacious and efficient in front of goal, Weightman should be catching the eye of judges. - Callum Twomey

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Weightman climbs Gawn ladder to haul in this ripping mark

Cody Weightman sits on Max Gawn's head to throw his name into MOTY contention- then follows up with a goal

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3. The Cats have come for the crown

If Richmond's dynasty is indeed set to end in 2021, then Geelong is the side best placed to take the mantle as the League's finest. So close last year, only to fail at the final hurdle against the Tigers in the Grand Final, the Cats have gone to another level one season on. Given the rivalry between these two sides, it's fitting then that Geelong's remarkable recent run is bookended by wins over Richmond. The 63-point thumping of the Tigers back in May started a form line of 10 wins from the last 11 Cats games. Their 38-point victory on Sunday continued that trend and proved why they are primed for a premiership tilt. The Western Bulldogs might sit atop the AFL ladder, but no one is playing better footy than Geelong right now. - Riley Beveridge

4. Port's unpredictable forward line is its biggest weapon 

That young star Mitch Georgiades went from kicking four goals in round 18 to none six days later was almost welcomed by coach Ken Hinkley as others took their chances in a gritty win against Collingwood. Todd Marshall emerged from a goalless fortnight to boot 3.0 and Charlie Dixon had his best return this season with 4.3. Marshall reflects the unpredictability of the Power forward line better than anyone. He has booted multiple goals on seven occasions this season and gone goalless on six. His role in the team was defended passionately on Friday night by Hinkley, who knows his talls will continue to take their turn when it presents. With weapons at ground level and Robbie Gray and Orazio Fantasia to return, the forwards shape as an opposition analyst's nightmare in the run to September. - Nathan Schmook

5. Bombers may be better off missing finals

The race for eighth is wide open, but it may be a poisoned chalice this season with an away game against Port Adelaide, Brisbane or Sydney the likely opponent for whoever claims that final spot inside the top eight. After a stirring run of form through the middle part of the season, Essendon looked a long way off the pace during Sunday's clash with the Giants and may be better placed missing out on September football this year so their young brigade remain hungry heading into 2022. - Jonathan Healy

6. McGovern could solve Eagles' ruck riddle 

West Coast has struggled all season to find a ruck structure it is comfortable sticking with, and Jeremy McGovern has not been the dominant force in defence we had become used to during a run of four consecutive Therabody AFL All-Australian seasons. Against St Kilda he moved into the ruck when Nic Naitanui took his breaks and it looked to be a move worth exploring, with six hitouts in the first quarter and nine for the game after three separate stints in the role. Oscar Allen played the role later in the game while also swinging into defence when needed, but limiting the young star's time out of the forward line is a positive. The extra run the Eagles gain by not selecting a dedicated second ruckman is also important. Becoming more conditioned to the role will be important after McGovern "blew up" with the extra demands, but the shake-up could be good on two fronts if it helps the gun defender get back to his best with a fresh challenge. - Nathan Schmook  

7. Life without Buddy has made the Swans better

Sydney had to learn to live without Lance Franklin for all of last year and most of 2019, and are now less reliant on the superstar despite his stunning return to fitness and 39 goals this season. Isaac Heeney starred against Fremantle with five goals that took him to 28 for the year, while Tom Papley has continued his consistent output with 30 majors and Will Hayward has kicked 21. The Swans have other tall targets too, especially with Sam Reid returning against the Dockers for his first match since round six, and Logan McDonald, Joel Amartey and Hayden McLean impressing at times. The Swans look ready to prove they have overcome their reliance on Franklin if the 34-year-old is suspended for his high elbow on Dockers' defender Luke Ryan, or is merely rested in the run-in to the finals. - Martin Pegan

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Is Buddy in trouble for this fiery elbow?

A fired-up Lance Franklin may find himself in hot water for this contact on Luke Ryan

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8. There's no one better delivering inside 50 than Hugh McCluggage

After a slow first half against the Suns, McCluggage put on another clinic on how to use the ball in his 100th game. Brisbane's silky wingman had 18 second half disposals, setting up three goals directly from his pinpoint kicking. He now leads the AFL with 23 goal assists and is an absolute master of kicking to the advantage of his forwards, whether they're leading or not. If McCluggage has the ball forward of the centre circle, it usually means good things for the Lions. - Michael Whiting

9. Tex is still in the Coleman Medal hunt

Harry McKay has a strong grip on the Coleman Medal at the moment, and has been in the lead for some time now. But after a four-goal performance against the Hawks on Saturday night, Taylor Walker has closed the gap to sit only six goals behind McKay with four games to play. While this would be a tough hurdle to overcome, if Walker can reclaim his early season form – which saw him kick 17 goals in the opening three games – he is in with a shot of making McKay nervous and potentially claiming his first Coleman Medal. This would cap off what has been a remarkable renaissance for the veteran this season. - Luke Michael