1. It's time for Tomahawk to sharpen up

Tom Hawkins has booted 12 goals from his past four matches and looks to be recapturing his best form. The power forward added three against Carlton on Saturday night, but gave away an amazing seven free kicks. Hawkins' role in stepping up to lead the forward line in the absence of Esava Ratugolea (broken ankle) and Dan Menzel (groin) has become vitally important for the Cats and the way he performs in the back half of this season could dictate where they finish in a hotly contested finals race. Hawkins needs to get away from niggling his opponents and focus on hitting up at the ball and creating space for himself in one-on-one battles. The key forward is capable of being dominant, but it's up to him to make sure that he is. - Ben Guthrie

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2. Melbourne is for real

The Demons enjoyed a soft month on paper before 'hosting' an overwhelmingly understrength Adelaide in foreign territory for both clubs in Alice Springs on Sunday. That might not read like the formline required to judge a true contender, but it's the disdain Simon Goodwin's team is treating its opposition with in recent weeks that is so darn impressive. Melbourne's past three wins – as part of a five-match victory charge – are up there with the most devastating stretch of football we've seen in several years. The Demons recorded an equal-AFL record 83 inside 50s in demolishing Gold Coast by 69 points at the Gabba, trounced Carlton by 109 points last week and followed up with a 91-point pantsing of the Crows – last year's losing grand finalist. Just as eyebrow-raising was Melbourne's contested ball dominance (163-117) of a team fresh from setting the competition record with 213 nine days ago. We also loved how the Dees kicked the final four goals to preserve their 18-quarter winning streak. There is plenty more to prove for a team that last played finals in 2006, but no-one should be sleeping on Melbourne. - Marc McGowan

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3. The Pies got it right on Scharenberg

Matthew Scharenberg was a prodigious talent when Collingwood took him with pick No.6 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft. A horror run of injuries, including two knee reconstructions, has limited him to just 23 senior games since, but this year he has finally enjoyed some continuity, playing the past nine rounds. Scharenberg has looked increasingly at home in Collingwood's backline during this stretch, no more so than in Friday night's impressive win over the Western Bulldogs. The 22-year-old combined brilliantly with fellow Pies talls Jeremy Howe and Lynden Dunn to make life hell for Bulldogs talls Tom Boyd, Josh Schache and Jordan Roughead, especially in the air. Scharenberg also racked up 26 possessions – the fourth time this year he has had 25 or more – and showcased the composure and class that typified his junior career, finishing with 100 per cent disposal efficiency. At 191cm, he also gives the Magpies great flexibility with his ability to play on talls – he spent time on 200cm Boyd on Friday night – and mediums, while he is second at the club behind Howe in average marks (6.2 a game) and rebound 50s (4.2) in 2018. - Nick Bowen

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4. The Eagles aren't a Perth-only powerhouse

Even when kept to their lowest score for the season on Sunday by the plucky but untidy Hawks, the Eagles were still able to get the job done without any of their renowned goalkickers having a big game. Josh Kennedy kicked three, but Jack Darling was held goalless for just the second time this season to leave Willie Rioli as their only other multiple goal-kicker. Much has been made about their ability to beat up on sides at their home fortress, but Sunday's 15-point win at Etihad Stadium made it four wins from four interstate starts this season. It's pretty clear the Eagles are the real deal and aren't scared of taking their show on the road. - Jennifer Phelan.

5. Essendon's pressure cooker is fired up

Fierce pressure has been an important feature of the Bombers' mini-resurgence – just ask GWS coach Leon Cameron, who named it as the key reason behind his side's defeat on Saturday night. Essendon is ranked second in the league for tackles, averaging almost 70 per game, and went plus-27 against the Giants in that stat at Spotless Stadium. Despite having fewer possessions (371-351), the Bombers dominated the clearances (55-47) and split the contested ball (154-153) in a good indication of who won the scrimmages. Essendon's Devon Smith leads the league with 88 tackles this season and had 13 against his old side. - Riley Stuart

6. Skipper or not, Dayne Beams is a great leader

Just days after standing down as Brisbane's captain to continue dealing with the passing of his father earlier this year, Dayne Beams stood head and shoulders the best player afield against Sydney. While Dayne Zorko took over as the official captain – and did a fantastic job with a fine performance himself – Beams was still the Lions' heartbeat. He not only matched an exceptional night from Swans skipper Josh Kennedy (34 disposals), but went a touch better to finish with 38 touches, including 16 contested, nine clearances and a goal. After a slow start to his season, Beams has built nicely over the past month, and with the club rallied around him as he continues dealing with his personal problems, watch for the 28-year-old to get better and better. - Michael Whiting

7. Josh Caddy should be in All Australian conversation 

The Tiger stepped up when required on Saturday, booting a career-high six goals against St Kilda. Caddy did it with Richmond missing spearhead Jack Riewoldt, who was concussed early in the game. Caddy is only 186cm but is a difficult match-up, because he is so adept in the air as well as ground level. The former Cat and Sun has now kicked 23 goals in eight games this season - eclipsing his previous best for a single year (21 the previous two years). His form warrants discussion in the All Australian team at this rate. - Callum Twomey

8. North's twin towers could be the AFL's best duo

Coming back from concussion, Fremantle defender Joel Hamling did an excellent job shackling Ben Brown at Optus Stadium on Sunday, but with the Coleman Medal leader held to just two goals in wintry conditions it was his sidekick Jarrad Waite who got off the leash. Waite's second half was pivotal in the Roos becoming the first interstate side since Sydney in round one to come away from Perth with victory. The 35-year-old booted two crucial goals in the third stanza and opened the final quarter with his third, giving North enough breathing space to hold on for a gritty win. Waite (22) and Brown (33) have combined for 55 majors this year, bettering the 49 majors from West Coast stars Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling – albeit with Kennedy missing the first three rounds – and have been key reasons in the Roos' surprising push for finals this year. - Travis King