WITH THREE rounds remaining of the AFL season, there are 10 games remaining that will shape the top eight more than any others. 

Currently, just four wins separate second on the ladder from 10th, with only three sides – Geelong, Melbourne and Collingwood – locked into finals.

If the wheels at Sydney (fourth) or Brisbane (fifth) fall off in spectacular fashion, those two teams are still in danger of crashing out of the top eight by the end of round 23.

TOP EIGHT ANYONE'S GUESS AFL Exchange does the maths

Five clubs hold the key to the final standings: Carlton, St Kilda, Brisbane, Collingwood and Melbourne.

All of the Blues, Saints and Lions' remaining games will have a big effect on the finals make-up, and while the Pies and Demons are already locked into September action, their opponents over the final stretch of the season means their matches still carry significant weight.

Those five clubs all face fellow top-eight teams in each of the last three weeks of the season. Notably, Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne all play each other in classic 'eight-point' games. 

Noah Balta of Richmond and Brisbane's Dan McStay show opposite emotions on the final siren of R20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Brisbane takes on both Carlton and Melbourne, while St Kilda faces arguably the toughest run home - Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, followed by home games at Marvel Stadium against Brisbane and an in-form Sydney.  

Of the current top-eight teams, the Saints look the shakiest, sitting just half a game ahead of Richmond in ninth and one game ahead of the Western Bulldogs in 10th.

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The Saints' percentage of 104.3 could also be an issue, with the Tigers sitting on 114 and the Dogs on 109.4.

St Kilda players look dejected after losing to the Western Bulldogs in R18, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Carlton is also vulnerable to falling out of the top eight, facing a tricky trip to Brisbane, an even tougher prospect in Melbourne at the MCG before a blockbuster Sunday afternoon against Collingwood.

WHY PIES MIGHT BE LEGIT Every club's record against the top eight

Unsurprisingly, the finals picture will look somewhat clearer after this weekend's action, with at least four key matches.

While Richmond is well and truly in finals survival mode, a loss to Port Adelaide will put a serious dent in its chances of jumping into the eight. The match is even more crucial for the Power, whose already-slim finals hopes will end if they lose to the Tigers. 


Round 21
Melbourne v Collingwood
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle
Geelong v St Kilda
Brisbane v Carlton 

Round 22
St Kilda v Brisbane
Melbourne v Carlton
Sydney v Collingwood

Round 23
Brisbane v Melbourne
Carlton v Collingwood
St Kilda v Sydney