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The AFL Finals are coming, but nothing is settled with five rounds to go

The Hawks and Bulldogs won to stay in the finals hunt, the Eagles dropped four vital points to a comeback from the Magpies, Port Adelaide re-ignited doubts about the team's ability to beat top sides, Adelaide got the Geelong monkey off its back and Sydney just kept the Swans 2.0 reboot going.

The bottom line is there are few things we can take for granted in this league any more, so making predictions about how the final rounds are going to play out is a hazardous exercise at best.
Having said that, what can we say at this point?
The Crows are clearly in the box seat, with a game-and-a-half break over second-placed Geelong, as well as the psychological boost that comes from a first win in some time over the Cats.

Ladder

Pos.TeamPWDLFA%Pts
1Adelaide Crows1713041,9081,364139.8852
2Geelong Cats1711151,6971,469115.5246
3GWS Giants1710251,6411,444113.6444
4Richmond1711061,4581,343108.5644
5Port Adelaide1710071,7301,310132.0640
6Sydney Swans1710071,5561,342115.9540
7Melbourne1710071,6181,499107.9440
8Essendon179081,6771,529109.6836
9West Coast Eagles179081,4961,475101.4236
10Western Bulldogs179081,4011,42798.1836
11St Kilda179081,4811,53296.6736
12Hawthorn177191,4431,64087.9930
13Collingwood1770101,5011,55296.7128
14Fremantle1770101,2491,59078.5528
15Gold Coast Suns1760111,4631,75683.3124
16Carlton1750121,2431,52381.6220
17North Melbourne1740131,5531,75988.2916
18Brisbane Lions1740131,4311,99271.8416
A week after being knocked out of the game with concussion, Rory Sloane was nigh on unstoppable — that's the model that Adelaide needs leading into the finals.
They cannot afford him to be shut down in key games. Don Pyke will hope the Crows can keep their clearance and stoppage dominance going — if they can it will mean the road to the grand final will go through Adelaide Oval.
It's not all set in stone, though. The Showdown against a wounded Port Adelaide could be anything, Sydney a fortnight later looms as a potential banana skin, and the Crows could well need the week off after the round 23 trip to Perth.
t was an excellent win for the Tigers, and the pressure they put on the Giants was top-class, but let's not get carried away.
It was just a fortnight ago Richmond was crushed by St Kilda, so the difference between the Tigers' best and worst is way too far apart.
The Tigers need the old reliables of Alex Rance, Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin at peak performance to set up a big September — but if they can't get past the Hawks and Cats they will struggle to make the top four.
The Swans are rewriting history as we speak, as they are likely to become the first team to make the eight after starting 0-6.
They won't be able to count on five goals a game from Callum Sinclair, but the fact they are getting improvement across the board is impressive.
The Swans clearly have the momentum and could incredibly finish top four — but they could just as easily lose three of their last five.
Melbourne is in a good spot, with three home games to finish the home and away.
Their fierce, contested brand of footy looked good against Port Adelaide — the challenge now is to bring that intensity every week until the finals, to establish themselves as genuine contenders.
For all the focus on Max Gawn, Jesse Hogan and Clayton Oliver, if Michael Hibberd can keep producing brilliant run off half-back, the Demons are a chance to jump into the top four and then anything is possible.
The Eagles have a reasonable run home, but after their stunning slip-up against Collingwood, they don't look like they have the fire to get the job done.
The defending premiers always beat the Suns in Cairns, but they're not travelling well enough to be confident they can get a run going.
The Saints look great one week and awful the next. Their run home is not easy — beating the Power in Adelaide is an absolute must if their season is not to peter out.
So if you have to pick a team right now that had a shot at breaking in, it would be the written-off Hawks who are six points out of the eight with the lowest percentage of all the possible finalists.
Since the bye, a close loss to Geelong has been their only blip. They would have to run the table, but if they beat the Swans at the MCG on Friday night, watch out.
West Coast Eagles, 9th, 9-8, 101.4: Brisbane (Subiaco), St Kilda (Docklands), Carlton (Subiaco), GWS (Sydney Showgrounds), Adelaide (Subiaco).
Western Bulldogs, 10th, 9-8, 98.2: Essendon (Docklands), Brisbane (Gabba), GWS (Docklands), Port Adelaide (Ballarat), Hawthorn (Docklands).
St Kilda, 11th, 9-8, 96.7: Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), West Coast (Docklands), Melbourne (MCG), North Melbourne (Docklands), Richmond (MCG).
Hawthorn, 12th, 7-9-1, 88.0: Sydney (MCG), Richmond (MCG), North Melbourne (Launceston), Carlton (Docklands), Bulldogs (Docklands).

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