ANOTHER round, another week closer to the Toyota AFL Finals Series and the race for a top-eight berth is heating up. 

The traffic jam in the middle of the ladder got even worse with Carlton's big win over St Kilda and West Coast's stunning loss to Collingwood compressing the teams ranked between seventh and 13th. 

Remarkably, the Blues are level with Richmond on premiership points and trail the reigning premiers by just four percentage points. If you can't write off the Tigers just yet, mathematics says David Teague's team also remains in September calculations. 

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

At the top end of the ladder, Brisbane's top-four hopes are fading rapidly after a flat month capped by an upset loss to Hawthorn in Launceston. They're every chance of being swamped by the Swans, who are riding a five-game winning streak despite a scheduled disrupted on a weekly basis by COVID outbreaks. 

With three games to go, check out how the road to September is shaping up for all 13 remaining contenders.

Collingwood, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Hawthorn and North Melbourne have not been considered. All venues are as scheduled and subject to change. 

1. Western Bulldogs

60 points (15 wins, four losses), 142.0 per cent
The Bulldogs' clinical 49-point triumph over the Crows on Saturday helped them maintain top spot on the ladder, but they still have plenty of work to do if they want to remain there. Geelong and Melbourne remain snapping at the Dogs' heels and Luke Beveridge's side may have to win their remaining three games if they want to claim the minor premiership. The good news is they will likely start favourites in all three of those contests, with their final-round showdown against fellow premiership hopeful Port Adelaide looming as their toughest match during the run home. - Jonathan Healy

The run home
R21: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium
R23: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium

2. Geelong

60 points (15 wins, four losses), 132.6 per cent
Geelong's destiny is still in its own hands, with three wins in the final three rounds guaranteeing a coveted top-two position. At this stage, all three matches are scheduled for the Cats' GMHBA fortress, ensuring they will be favourites to win all. They could even win just one of their next two – tricky assignments against the Giants and Saints – and the final round showdown against Melbourne would likely determine who finishes second. Geelong still has some injured personnel due back in the final weeks. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R21: GWS Giants @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: St Kilda @ GMHBA Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

3. Melbourne

58 points (14 wins, one draw, four losses), 131.5 per cent
Just like Geelong, Melbourne has a top-two spot in its own hands following Sunday's flogging of Gold Coast. If they win their final three, the Demons will finish either first or second. Flying to Perth on Monday to hotel quarantine for a week ahead of playing the Eagles is another curveball Melbourne will have to deal with, but one it has shown it's good enough to overcome. They need to beat West Coast and Adelaide, but all signs are pointing towards a round 23 showdown with Geelong – which could yet be a pre-cursor to the opening weekend of finals. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R21: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R22: Adelaide @ MCG
R23: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium

4. Port Adelaide

56 points (14 wins, five losses), 121.8 per cent
After downing the Giants, the Power are now eight points clear of the Lions but still have the Swans one win behind them and pushing hard to claim their top-four spot. There isn't a lot of percentage separating the Power and the Swans, so they need to win their remaining three matches to be sure of entering the finals with a double chance. That won't be simple with a Showdown against Adelaide up next followed by a clash with the inconsistent Blues then a tough task against the Bulldogs. But with the wins on the board and some young guns returning in recent weeks the Power should be confident of charging to a finish in the top half of the eight. - Martin Pegan

The run home
R21: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Carlton @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

5. Sydney

52 points (13 wins, six losses), 118.0 per cent
Sydney's top-four hopes remain alive after an impressive seven-point win over Essendon. With a more-than-favourable run home, the Swans should secure victories over St Kilda, North Melbourne and Gold Coast. Brisbane's wobbles are working in Sydney's favour, with the Swans now just three per cent off Port Adelaide in fourth position. - Sarah Black

The run home
R21: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R22: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Gold Coast @ TBC

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

6. Brisbane

48 points (12 wins, seven losses), 124.6 per cent
The Lions have a relatively kind run home but the shock loss to the Hawks leaves their top-four hopes hanging by a thread. Even if they win out, the double chance will only be secured if the Power drop at least two games. Brisbane is two games clear of West Coast in seventh place, so a home elimination final is on the cards. There is a strong possibility the Lions could play Eagles in round 23 and the first week of the finals.

The run home
R21: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ Gabba
R23: West Coast @ Gabba

7. West Coast

40 points (10 wins, nine losses), 95.9 per cent
West Coast blew a major opportunity to shore up a top-eight spot following its shock 45-point loss to Collingwood on Saturday. Suddenly, with a poor percentage and tough games to come against premiership contenders Melbourne and Brisbane, the Eagles are in real danger of missing finals for the first time since 2014. The Western Derby in round 22 now looms as a pivotal clash for the Eagles’ finals hopes. West Coast will hope it can soon regain key players such as Tom Barrass, Liam Ryan and skipper Luke Shuey as it fights to keep its season alive. - Luke Michael         

The run home
R21: Melbourne @ Optus Stadium
R22: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R23: Brisbane @ Gabba

8. Fremantle

36 points (nine wins, 10 losses), 90.9 per cent
The Dockers took control of their finals destiny, jumping from 12th to eighth with a thrilling win against Richmond. They now hold eighth spot at the deepest point of any season since 2015 and will break a six-year finals drought if they retain it. A poor percentage makes it hard for the Dockers if they lose any of their final three matches. A tricky assignment looms against a Brisbane team that will be desperate to put a bad month behind it and a blockbuster Western Derby looms in round 21, with West Coast no September certainty. The Dockers then finish the season against St Kilda and can't be discounted after several results went their way and gave them back control of their fate. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R21: Brisbane @ Optus Stadium
R22: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R23: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium

9. Greater Western Sydney

34 points (eight wins, 10 losses, one draw), 95.1 per cent
The Giants have fallen out of the top eight and no longer have their destiny in their own hands after their loss to the Power and with the Dockers leaping over them. To be sure of playing finals the Giants probably need to win their remaining three matches, starting with the Cats at GMHBA Stadium. It's the toughest trip in the game but the Giants were able to win there on their last visit in early 2019 and also won their only other clash with the Cats since then. The Giants' two matches after that are against fellow finals contenders Richmond and Carlton, so loom as decisive 'eight-pointers' that will make or break their season. - Martin Pegan

The run home
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Richmond @ TBC
R23: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

10. Essendon

32 points (eight wins, 11 losses), 102.7 per cent
Successive losses to GWS and Sydney have hurt Essendon's chances of securing eighth position. The good news is, no one around them seems overly keen to lock down that last finals spot either, so the Bombers remain in the hunt. An upset win over flag favourite the Western Bulldogs looks unlikely, but Gold Coast and Collingwood loom as winnable matches. - Sarah Black

The run home
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R23: Collingwood @ MCG

11. Richmond

32 points (eight wins, 11 losses), 98.0 per cent
There has been a reluctance to write off the Tigers, despite six losses in their past seven games, but they are no longer in control of their finals chances. The back-to-back premiers need to win every game from here and hope 11 wins is enough to play finals, with their percentage a little healthier than some rivals for eighth spot. A rather soft run home awaits from here, with the round 21 match against Greater Western Sydney followed by clashes against North Melbourne and Hawthorn at the MCG. They won't be ruled out until it is mathematically impossible, but that point is getting dangerously close. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R21: North Melbourne @ MCG
R22: GWS Giants @ TBC
R23: Hawthorn @ MCG

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

12. Carlton

32 points (eight wins, 11 losses), 94.1 per cent
So you're saying there's a chance? Yes, there remains a shot for the Blues to make the finals after their Friday night win over St Kilda. They have two winnable games at Marvel Stadium to come and a trip to Adelaide to face Port. Their percentage isn't terrific in comparison to other top-eight chances but they remain a sneaky chance if results fall their way. - Callum Twomey

The run home
R21: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R23: GWS Giants @ Marvel Stadium

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

13. St Kilda

32 points (eight wins, 11 losses), 85.9 per cent
The Saints had the chance to jump into the top-eight with a win over Carlton on Friday night but succumbed. It continued the story of their season, with St Kilda unable to make the most of its chances. They have a tough fortnight ahead with games against Sydney and Geelong before a home game against Fremantle to finish the year, but with their poor percentage they are almost an extra game behind other contenders for eighth position. They're done. - Callum Twomey

The run home
R21: Sydney @ TBC
R22: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R23: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium