Palmerbet Sports Team takes a deep breath to assess the contenders for this year’s AFL Finals Series, looking at each side’s run home and premiership chances.

Richmond (1st, 48pts, 137.8%)

Far and away the best side in the competition at present, the Tigers look set to go deep in September once again. Every game is a ‘winnable’ one for Richmond these days, but their draw is favourable. Of their seven games left, five are against sides outside of the top eight. It gives them a chance to rest players ahead of another tilt at the flag, in what will be a typically demanding finals series. And it’s why at Palmerbet we have them at $2.60 to take the cup home on September 29.

Collingwood (2nd, 44pts, 122.2%)

The surprise packet of 2018. At 0-2 the sceptics were saying ‘same old Collingwood’, but Nathan Buckley has turned this side into a tackling, running, structured machine who are starting to scare sides. A tough run home sees them play every other side in the top five. This includes Richmond, Sydney and West Coast in the next month. Our traders are backing them to get the job done in this tough period, as they remain $1.50 to make the top four. For the premiership market, they are equal-second with Port Adelaide at $8.

West Coast Eagles (3rd, 44pts, 120.6%)

Separated by mere percentage from Collingwood and Port Adelaide, the Eagles’ season to date could be marked as ‘par’. After a barnstorming first half of the season, they lost three games on the trot thanks largely to injuries suffered by key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. Sunday’s win over the Giants broke the streak, however, and a *relatively* straightforward run home sees them play four sides outside the top eight. The Eagles are at $1.70 to remain in the top four and $9 to go one better than their 2015 effort and win the premiership.

Port Adelaide (4th, 44pts, 117.6%)

Like the Eagles, the impressive Power face four of seven games against sides sitting outside the top eight. Ken Hinkley’s side are five wins on the trot, impressive our traders so much that they’re into equal-second premiership favourites alongside Collingwood at $8. From rounds 20 to 22, however, they face a big test with consecutive games against Adelaide, West Coast and Collingwood. Should they come out of that unscathed, they’ll be a surety for the top four (of which they are currently $1.45 to make with Palmerbet).

Sydney Swans (5th, 40pts, 118.3%)

Consecutive losses have all of a sudden made things tricky for the Swans. Undoubtedly a strong list, they currently appear far too reliant on superstar forward Lance Franklin. And with injuries to Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery and Kieran Jack, will they limp towards September? Certainly, they need two wins in the next three weeks against North Melbourne, Gold Coast and Essendon. They’re out to $1.90 to make the top four, although have remained strong in the premiership market, which they are currently $9 to win.

Melbourne (6th, 36pts, 127.8%)

A month ago, people were jumping on the Dees premiership tilt in their droves. Three losses in a row tempered the hype, however, and Simon Goodwin’s side will need to finish the season strongly if they are to finish in the top four and earn themselves a double chance. Their next month (Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Adelaide Gold Coast) reads okay, but the final three games (Sydney, West Coast, GWS) will decide their fate. They’re currently outsiders ($3.80) to make the top four but remain relatively strongly backed in Palmerbet’s premiership market at $12.

Geelong (7th, 36pts, 123.1%)

Had they lost to Sydney on Thursday night, the Cat’s top four hopes would have been done and dusted. An inspriring win at the SCG, however, has given Chris Scott’s side new life. They’re into $3.50 to make the top-four and, according to our traders, appear nailed-on to make the finals (at $1.12). With four home games in seven to come (including three against bottom-six sides) the Cats are seemingly well-placed. A side with class and experience, they are currently at $9.50 with Palmerbet to win the 2018 AFL Premiership.

Hawthorn (8th, 36pts, 118.1%)

With four wins in their last fives and games against Brisbane, Carlton and Fremantle to come, the Hawks are in a good position to make the finals despite their precarious position on the ladder. Their dream run home has them at $1.26 with Palmerbet to make the top eight. However there’s a big dropoff (after Melbourne) in the Premiership stakes, with the Hawks considered $21 outsiders to win a fifth flag under Alastair Clarkson.

North Melbourne (9th, 36pts, 116.0%)

A slightly better percentage would see the Kangaroos in sixth, such is the log-jammed nature of the AFL ladder. Along with Collingwood, Brad Scott’s side is one of the biggest surprises of 2018. But they still have their work cut out to make the finals. They are currently $1.80 with Palmerbet to make the eight but with games against Sydney, Collingwood and West Coast to come, will they squeeze in come September?

Greater Western Sydney (10th, 36pts, 116.0%)

Six weeks ago the Giants’ season was seen as a write-off, but four wins in a row got it back on track. And with a host of star quality to return, could the Giants make the finals? Games against Richmond and Port Adelaide in the next fortnight make it tough. You sense they might have to claim one big scalp to move into the eight. They’re currently $2.40 to make the finals but $34 to win the flag.

Adelaide Crows (11th, 28pts, 97.4%) & Essendon (12th, 28pts, 94.2%)

Effectively three games of the top eight (when you consider their poor percentage), we’re running the line through the Crows and Bombers. If you think they could sneak into the eight, however, Palmerbet has them at $8 and $11 respectively.