IT WAS a horror weekend for one-time top-four hopefuls Brisbane and Carlton, with both teams dropping games they could reasonably have expected to win. 

The Lions let a seven-goal lead slide at the MCG and now sit outside the top four for the first time since round three, while the Blues remain winless at Adelaide Oval after their loss to the Crows on Saturday night. 

Meanwhile, the Collingwood thrill ride continued with another single-digit margin in a win against Port Adelaide, Melbourne was back to its brutal, miserly best in dispatching Fremantle and Sydney enjoyed a monster percentage boost against a hapless Greater Western Sydney. 

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

Who's in the box seat, and who's facing an uphill battle to finish inside the eight? Check out your club's finish to the season below. 

Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, Essendon, North Melbourne and West Coast have not been considered.

1. Geelong

60 points (15 wins, 4 losses), 135.5 per cent
Ten wins on the trot and three games to come where they will start as clear favourites. There is a very real chance Geelong arrives at the first week of September on a 13-game winning streak as the clear premiership favourites. Chris Scott's side is one game clear on top of the ladder with three games to play. The Cats will enjoy two home games between now and the finals, around a trip to Queensland to face Gold Coast in what could be their final interstate game of 2022. - Josh Gabelich

The run home
R21: St Kilda @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R23: West Coast @ GMHBA Stadium

2. Melbourne

56 points (14 wins, five losses) 131.6 per cent
The difference between winning and losing against Fremantle was massive, and the crucial four points now has the Demons in excellent shape for a top-two spot. More important is their form, having rediscovered their fierce appetite for both the contest and defensive pressure. The reigning premiers should now be favoured to account for both Collingwood and Carlton in the next fortnight. Final-round opponent Brisbane shapes as their biggest challenge, but the Demons know what is required to hit September in form and look ready to start their build. – Nathan Schmook

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The run home
R21: Collingwood @ MCG
R22: Carlton @ MCG
R23: Brisbane @ Gabba

3. Collingwood

56 points (14 wins, 5 losses) 106.2 per cent
With three rounds remaining, Collingwood is in the top four and locked into finals, an incredible achievement under first-year coach Craig McRae. The Pies' ability to win close games has been remarkable, and notching up 10 straight has surely built an ample supply of confidence. That being said, a back-in-form Melbourne looms, with Sydney to follow at the SCG. A final-round match against Carlton is no cakewalk either, with the Blues a chance to be fighting for finals qualification at that stage – Sarah Black

The run home
R21: Melbourne @ MCG
R22: Sydney @ SCG
R23: Carlton @ MCG

4. Sydney

52 points (13 wins, six losses), 126.5 per cent
Not only was Saturday's win over Greater Western Sydney critical in the tight competition, it gave the Swans a valuable percentage boost in the race for the top four. The equation now is simple – win the final three games and Sydney guarantees itself a double chance come finals time. Following another chance to nudge the percentage north against the Kangaroos next Sunday, the round 22 game against Collingwood looms as season-defining, with the winner taking a huge step towards the all-important four. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R21: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ SCG
R23: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium

5. Brisbane

52 points (13 wins, six losses) 123.3 per cent
For most of Sunday, the Lions were third on the ladder, ahead of a home game against Carlton. They now find themselves in fifth after the heartbreaking loss to Richmond, making their top-four hopes all the more difficult. The Lions come home with three top-eight sides (Carlton, St Kilda and Melbourne), with two of those at home. They probably need to win all three to secure a double chance, but two may get them there. - Trent Masenhelder

The run home
R21: Carlton @ Gabba
R22: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ Gabba

6. Fremantle

50 points (12 wins, six losses, one draw) 114.9 per cent
The Dockers were lucky not to fall as low as seventh thanks to Carlton's loss to Adelaide and have significant work to do to climb back into top four contention. While mathematically very possible, their form is the concern, having lost their forward half pressure game and become disjointed with their ball movement. Justin Longmuir's team has an excellent road record and has lost only once in four games at Marvel Stadium this season, where it will launch the final three weeks against the Western Bulldogs. West Coast should be accounted for in round 22 before a tricky trip in round 23 that could be captain Nat Fyfe's return game from a hamstring injury. A home final and top six finish would be an excellent result from here. – Nathan Schmook

The run home
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R23: Greater Western Sydney @ Manuka Oval

7. Carlton

48 points (12 wins, seven losses) 112.6 per cent
The Blues may live to regret fluffing their chance to cement themselves inside the top eight on Saturday evening, with a nightmare run home against exclusively top-five sides. Carlton, which is a game and a half ahead of ninth-placed Richmond, must travel north to take on Brisbane next Sunday, possibly without George Hewett, Matthew Kennedy and Nic Newman due to injuries. After that the Blues return to the MCG, but must face reigning premier Melbourne and in-form Collingwood. One win from those three may be enough to clinch their first finals appearance since 2013, but they're unlikely to go into any of those as favourites. - Ben Somerford

The run home
R21: Brisbane @ Gabba
R22: Melbourne @ MCG
R23: Collingwood @ MCG

8. St Kilda

44 points (11 wins, eight losses) 104.3 per cent
The Saints are still well and truly in the hunt for finals football after securing back-to-back wins for the first time since round 11, with a much-needed victory over a fast-finishing Hawthorn on Saturday. For now, St Kilda is in the eight but only just, as it leapfrogged the Western Bulldogs into eighth off the back of the latter dropping points to Geelong. However, it won't be easy from here, with Brett Ratten's charges set to take on three top-eight sides who are all in the mix for a top-four finish. It all starts with an enormous clash against the Cats at GMHBA Stadium - a venue they haven't won at since 1999 - before taking on Brisbane and Sydney in their final two games. Despite the tricky opposition, the Saints won't have to head north for either game, with both contests taking place on their home deck at Marvel Stadium. - Nick D'Urbano

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

9. Richmond

42 points (10 wins, one draw, eight losses) 114.0 per cent
The Tigers’ season looked dead and buried at half-time on Sunday, but the pre-eminent team since 2017 pulled (another) one out of fire to keep their season alive. Their once-unlikely victory keeps them within reach of the eight, ahead of a tough challenge against Port in Adelaide on Saturday night. The Power are playing well without winning, and will doubtless be hungry for some late-season redemption. If Richmond can get past Port, they are a big chance to make the top eight, with their last two opponents being Hawthorn and Essendon at the MCG. Put simply, the Tigers can’t afford any missteps. – Trent Masenhelder

The run home
R21: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Hawthorn @ MCG
R23: Essendon @ MCG

10. Western Bulldogs

40 points (10 wins, 9 losses), 109.4 per cent
The Western Bulldogs are now a game outside the eight after fading against Geelong on Saturday night. They might need to win all three games on the road to September, starting with next Saturday's crunch game against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. The Dogs head down to Tasmania for the final round against Hawthorn in a game that could determine their finals status in 2022. - Josh Gabelich

The run home
R21: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium

11. Gold Coast

36 points (nine wins, 10 losses) 103.2 per cent
There's still life for the Suns following Sunday's heart-stopping win over West Coast. Although they're still two games outside the eight with just three matches remaining, seventh and eighth-placed Carlton and St Kilda have difficult stretches to finish, which could leave the door ajar. A Gold Coast win over Hawthorn in Launceston next Saturday would keep its hopes alive and set up a mouth-watering round 22 match against Geelong at Metricon Stadium. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R21: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium
R22: Geelong @ Metricon Stadium
R23: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

12. Port Adelaide

32 points (eight wins, 11 losses) 104.7 per cent
Port Adelaide's finals hopes are all but extinguished, now languishing 12 points adrift of eighth position with three rounds remaining. Coach Ken Hinkley acknowledged as much in the wake of the Power's slim loss to Collingwood, saying the team are good enough to mix it with the best but not play finals. Richmond at Adelaide Oval, Essendon and Adelaide are all winnable, but it'll take some mathematical somersaults for Port to make it from here. – Sarah Black

The run home
R21: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval