BEN RUTTEN said Essendon would "not be going too far in the finals" on current form.
However, the Bombers might not be the only ones thinking similar.
With just four weeks remaining in the season, there are two teams currently in the AFL's top-eight – West Coast and Greater Western Sydney – with percentages in the 90s. Should those sides remain there come September, it would be the first time since 2005 that multiple finalists qualify with a percentage less than 100.
Forget about win-loss record for a second and internally, clubs place few things higher than their percentage when gauging form across an entire season. It's therefore no surprise to find that only 16 teams to have played finals since the formation of the AFL in 1990 have qualified with a percentage in the 90s.
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That makes up just a tick over six percent of total finals sides in the last 21 years. In only four of those 21 seasons have multiple finalists qualified with percentages in the 90s in the same campaign. This year could make it five.
But qualifying for finals with a percentage under 100 is not just a rarity. It's also proved a near-certain death knell on a side's chances of progressing deep into September. Instead, as Rutten alluded to, those teams have quite simply made up the numbers.
Of the 16 teams to have qualified for September with a percentage in the 90s, only three have won a finals match. All three of those victories came in years where there were multiple finalists with percentages in the 90s, all three beat fellow teams with percentages in the 90s, and all three teams lost the following week.
Yes, that means their combined record in finals games against teams with percentages greater than 100 is 0-16.
Rutten, though, should be one of the few confident that his side might record an upset finals victory should they progress. Essendon is the only team within touching distance of seventh and eighth place on the ladder that currently has a percentage greater than 100.
West Coast (98.6), Greater Western Sydney (96.6), Richmond (98.2), Fremantle (90.3) and Carlton (91.9) are all in the 90s. St Kilda, currently two points outside the top-eight but with a percentage of 86.9, could become the first AFL side to ever qualify for the finals with a percentage in the 80s.
Currently, Port Adelaide's 1999 team holds the record for the lowest percentage to qualify for the finals (90.1). The Power lost their first post-season match in that year by 44 points. Since, getting comprehensively beaten by similar margins has proved a trend.
In fact, the 0-16 record spoken about earlier comes with an average losing margin of 41.3 points. The last time multiple finalists qualified with a percentage in the 90s in the same year, that 2005 season, their average losing margin was 75 points. It hardly makes for pleasant reading.
Neutral fans can only hope that whoever makes the finals with a percentage in the 90s this season, be it one or two teams, can create a bit of history along the way by recording an upset September win while they're at it.