James Aish reacts after Fremantle's loss to Carlton in R17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SEVEN rounds to play, eight finals spots available, 15 teams left in the race. Not everyone's going to be happy. Welcome back to The Run Home for another thrilling conclusion to the season.

Essendon was the big movers in round 17, jumping from ninth to fifth with a crucial win over Adelaide, while the Crows now sit outside the eight.

WHO MAKES FINALS? Play the Ladder Predictor NOW

Carlton has also kept its season alive with a thumping win over Fremantle, moving into 11th spot - ahead of Richmond on percentage - and just a win out of the top eight.

Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Brisbane are entrenched in the top four, but there's a logjam below them, with just 10 points separating Melbourne in fourth and Richmond in 12th.

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.

Hawthorn, North Melbourne and West Coast have not been considered.


1. Collingwood

56 points (14 wins, two losses), 137.1 per cent
The ladder leaders have only one interstate trip left, when they head to South Australia to face Port Adelaide in a fortnight, and are well and truly on track for a top-two finish. They also have five games to come at the MCG on the road to September. Four games inside the top four and two games clear of Brisbane in third, the primetime Pies have three Friday night games and a Saturday night blockbuster at the Adelaide Oval to come. - Josh Gabelich

The run home
R18: Fremantle @ MCG
R19: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R20: Carlton @ MCG
R21: Hawthorn @ MCG
R22: Geelong @ MCG
R23: Brisbane @ Marvel Stadium
R24: Essendon @ MCG


2. Port Adelaide

56 points (14 wins, two losses), 119.9 per cent
Port has kept its two-win break on third-placed Brisbane with an, at times, intimidating win against Gold Coast on Saturday night. However, an ankle injury to Trent McKenzie will hurt more than the veteran defender, and a first half played in the Suns' shadow may give opponents ideas on how to stop what has seemed an unstoppable force through the past 13 weeks. The Power's last seven matches are all against clubs still in the hunt for finals and even a small drop in application could put the guarantee of two home finals at risk.  – Howard Kimber

The run home
R18: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
R19: Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval
R20: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R24: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval


3. Brisbane

48 points (12 wins, four losses), 133.2 per cent
The Lions are about as locked into third place for the time being as you can be – two wins behind second and two in front of fourth. If they want to challenge Collingwood and Port Adelaide for the all-important top two, it starts with a critical fortnight ahead against Melbourne and Geelong. A win against the Demons at the MCG on Friday night would give them all sorts of confidence for a push in September regardless of where they finish. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R18: Melbourne @ MCG
R19: Geelong @ Gabba
R20: Gold Coast @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R21: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R22: Adelaide @ Gabba
R23: Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium
R24: St Kilda @ Gabba


4. Melbourne

40 points (10 wins, six losses), 127.4 per cent
An important victory over the fifth-placed Saints has firmed up Melbourne's top-four position, but next week looms as the real challenge to the Demons' fortunes. Facing off against the third-placed Lions at the MCG, Melbourne must win to maintain its advantage in the race for a double chance. The following fortnight against challengers Adelaide and Richmond will likely have significant implications on how the top eight falls, but from there the Demons have a more than winnable final month against North Melbourne, Carlton, Hawthorn and Sydney. - Gemma Bastiani

The run home
R18: Brisbane @ MCG
R19: Adelaide @ MCG
R20: Richmond @ MCG
R21: North Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena
R22: Carlton @ MCG
R23: Hawthorn @ MCG
R24: Sydney @ SCG


5. Essendon

36 points (nine wins, seven losses), 107.1 per cent
The Bombers are in the midst of a season-defining run of games, having fended off top-eight hopefuls Adelaide on Sunday, with a massive trip to eighth-placed Geelong to come on Saturday night. Essendon will drop below the reigning premiers should they lose to the Cats, who are unbeaten in their past three. After that, Essendon has a four-game run at Marvel Stadium that starts with another critical top-eight clash against the Western Bulldogs then Sydney, followed by struggling West Coast and North Melbourne, where they should bank maximum points. - Ben Somerford

The run home
R18: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R19: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
R21: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R22: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Greater Western Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R24: Collingwood @ MCG


6. St Kilda

36 points (nine wins, seven losses), 106.8 per cent
A loss to Melbourne on Saturday night has dented the Saints' run for a top-four spot and could even cost them a spot in the eight. They've now won just one game in their past month, with that one victory coming against a struggling West Coast, and must travel north to face the Gold Coast next week in what is now a crucial clash. The following fortnight against North Melbourne and Hawthorn is must-win before a tricky final month of the season. In the Saints' favour, however, is that they will travel just twice more this season – both trips to Queensland in rounds 18 and 24 – while enjoying a five-week stretch at their Marvel Stadium home in between. - Gemma Bastiani

The run home
R18: Gold Coast @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R19: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Geelong @ Marvel Stadium
R24: Brisbane @ Gabba


7. Western Bulldogs

36 points (nine wins, seven losses), 103.9 per cent
Luke Beveridge’s side lost touch with the top-four on Friday night and have a challenging road to the finals. They have two away games to come, starting with next Thursday night at the SCG, as well as a game against Greater Western Sydney in Ballarat. They head down the highway in the final round to face Cats in what looms as a crucial fixture in the finals race. - Josh Gabelich

The run home
R18: Sydney @ SCG
R19: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Greater Western Sydney @ Mars Stadium
R21: Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Hawthorn @ University of Tasmania Stadium
R23: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R24: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium


8. Geelong

34 points (eight wins, seven losses, one draw), 117.7 per cent
The Cats are back in the eight after doing what they needed to in a thrashing of North Melbourne on Sunday. The reigning premiers will be feared if they make it to September, and four of their final seven games are at GMHBA Stadium, while they only leave Victoria once. However, there are some big tests to come, with matches against top-four sides Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Collingwood, while they will also meet finals aspirants Essendon, Fremantle, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs. It's a tricky run home, and the Cats can't afford too many slip ups. – Dejan Kalinic

WHO MAKES FINALS? Play the Ladder Predictor NOW

The run home
R18: Essendon @ GMHBA Stadium
R19: Brisbane @ Gabba
R20: Fremantle @ GMHBA Stadium
R21: Port Adelaide @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ MCG
R23: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R24: Western Bulldogs @ GMHBA Stadium


9. Adelaide

32 points (eight wins, eight losses), 116.6 per cent
The Crows' away woes continued on Sunday, with their loss to Essendon seeing them fall outside the top eight, but four of their remaining seven games are at Adelaide Oval where they are 7-2 this year. That starts with the visit of the in-form Giants next Saturday night in a crunch clash between ninth and 10th respectively, before difficult assignments away to Melbourne and then against crosstown rivals Port Adelaide. The Crows will be desperate to remain right in the finals race at the end of that three-game span. - Ben Somerford

The run home
R18: Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R19: Melbourne @ MCG
R20: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Gold Coast @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Brisbane @ Gabba
R23: Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
R24: West Coast @ Optus Stadium


10. Greater Western Sydney

32 points (eight wins, eight losses), 98.4 per cent
After an upset win over Melbourne last week, the Giants needed to make the most of facing the lowly Hawks and they got the job done on Saturday. The tests get tougher from here, beginning with a trip to Adelaide to face the Crows next week. The Giants have plenty of winnable games to come, including a monster derby clash against the Swans in round 21, with their two meetings with the South Australian sides shaping as their biggest challenges. Of their remaining seven games, three are against teams currently sitting in the top eight. – Dejan Kalinic

The run home
R18: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R19: Gold Coast @ Manuka Oval
R20: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium
R21: Sydney @ Giants Stadium
R22: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R23: Essendon @ Giants Stadium
R24: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium


11. Carlton

30 points (seven wins, eight losses, one draw), 107.8 per cent
In the bottom four after round 13, the Blues are up to their eyeballs in the finals race after three big wins on the trot by 50 points or more. Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium is the immediate challenge, but Carlton has the form to challenge the flag fancies in another crucial match. From there, the Blues have four matches in a row in Melbourne, against West Coast, Collingwood, St Kilda and the Demons. On current form all are winnable, with the Blues producing a high-pressure style that will challenge all teams. Their midfield is also red hot and key forwards Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow loom large. Gold Coast (Heritage Bank Stadium) is their only road trip before finishing the season against Greater Western Sydney at home. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R18: Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium
R19: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium
R20: Collingwood @ MCG
R21: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Melbourne @ MCG
R23: Gold Coast @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R24: Greater Western Sydney @ Marvel Stadium


12. Richmond

30 points (seven wins, eight losses, one draw), 96.9 per cent
The Tigers came into the round in 15th, but secured a much-needed win over Sydney in their first game of former coach Damien Hardwick's infamous "big boy month" of July. Pencil in next week against West Coast (the Tigers have a decent record in Perth), and Hawthorn should be straightforward, but three decisive matches against Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda – the latter two at the bogey ground of Marvel Stadium – will see the Tigers either sink or swim. – Sarah Black

The run home
R18: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R19: Hawthorn @ MCG
R20: Melbourne @ MCG
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R23: North Melbourne @ MCG
R24: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval


13. Gold Coast

28 points (seven wins, nine losses), 92.5 per cent
Things just got a whole lot harder for Gold Coast after losing to Port Adelaide on Saturday night, although the effort through the first half against the Power suggests the Suns still have the ability to compete with the best. Whether they can do it enough is another question, and their poor percentage means it will likely take at least six wins from their last seven games to secure a maiden finals appearance. It’s not the hardest of runs home, but if Gold Coast can’t knock off St Kilda at home next Saturday afternoon it may be all over bar the shouting – of which there will be plenty.  – Howard Kimber

The run home
R18: St Kilda @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R19: Greater Western Sydney @ Manuka Oval
R20: Brisbane @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R21: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Sydney @ SCG
R23: Carlton @ Heritage Bank Stadium
R24: North Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena