After 15 rounds of football there are only eight points separating second and tenth spots on the AFL Ladder.
The 2021 premiers Melbourne sit one game clear on top after their victory over Brisbane las weekend and they kick off round 16 with a home game against the Western Bulldogs on Thursday night.
The round concludes on Sunday evening when Fremantle host Port Adelaide in another game with significant consequences.
Our full AFL Round 16 Tips & Preview can be found below.
The Lions failed miserably in their quest to sit outright first when they went down to Melbourne by 64 points last weekend and have now lost three of their last five.
They were significantly beaten in contested possessions and clearances which is a major concern for Chris Fagan and his midfield brigade going forward.
Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey were sorely missed in that clash against the Dees, but they have an opportunity to get their season back on track when they return to the Gabba.
The only loss that the Bulldogs have had since round 10 was to the Cats and they come into this game off the back of two wins on the trot.
Not only have the Dogs been winning and putting up big scores, they have covered the line in five of their last six games.
The Lions have struggled to play at the MCG but they have won 15 of their last 16 at the Gabba.
Unlike the Lions, the Blues past their Round 15 test against Fremantle to keep themselves in touch with the top four.
Sam Docherty and Sam Walsh continue to get plenty of the ball, combining for 70 disposals in their win over the Dockers.
The two pronged attack of Harry Mckay and Charlie Curnow are providing plenty of headaches for opposition defences and Adam Cerra returns for this clash.
The Saints have been the big sliders in recent weeks having now lost their last three to Brisbane, Essendon and Sydney to drop from fourth to tenth.
St Kilda dominated the ruck contest 45-22 while only narrowly winning the clearances (36-33), but 75 turnovers and just five marks inside 50 is concerning.
Their reliance on Max King is a problem and they have kicked just 23 goals in their last three games.
Carlton has covered the line in their last six games at Marvel stadium.
The Bombers continue to disappoint after losing to West Coast last weekend.
What makes it even more disappointing was that they managed to beat St Kilda the previous week, giving their fans and punters alike a sense of false confidence.
The reality is that they are a bottom four side who can not play four quarters of footy.
They run into a Swans side that has been inconsistent during this season but find themselves inside the top six and within striking distance of a double chance come September.
I can’t see them dropping four points here, but they will need to keep control of the football and not allow Essendon to move the ball quickly through the middle of the MCG.
There were plenty of people doubting Melbourne after three losses in a row brought them right back to the pack.
But they answered with a resounding win over their closest rival in Brisbane, dominating in the middle of ground to win by over 10 goals.
You’ll do well not to forget those losses though when assessing them going forward.
The Crows have now won two of their last three, albeit against West Coast and North Melbourne.
They were challenged by the Roos throughout the first half, but ran away 57 point winners in Tasmania.
They rank third last in clearances for season 2022 and dead last for centre clearances which is a massive cause for concern against the Dees.
The Dees win but not without some resistant from the Crows on their home deck.
Three wins in a row was halted in Adelaide on the weekend for the Gold Coast Suns when they went down by two points to Port Adelaide.
They remain just one game of eighth place and they have a healthy percentage which keeps their finals chances alive.
The Pies may be the most in form team in the competition and they have now won five in a row.
This includes wins over Melbourne, Carlton, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs.
Geelong are the only team to have more uncontested possessions throughout season 2022 than Collingwood and they have restricted their last five opponents to less than 77 points.
Collingwood has lost eight of their last nine night matches and the Gold Coast have covered the line in their last four straight games.
I’m struggling to tip either of these sides with confidence but I do think that it will be a close contest and the Total Points has come up very small in my opinion.
Geelong sit in second position on the AFL ladder after a narrow victory over Richmond last weekend and they have a somewhat favourable draw.
The Cats game plan worked perfectly in that fixture for most of the game until the Tigers got a hold of them and started scoring quickly but the Cats showed plenty of ticker to fight back late in the contest.
The return of Jack Henry added another dimension the Cats attack and Patrick Dangerfield should return this week or next.
North Melbourne are the worst team in the competition by some distance and there really aren’t many positives to talk about.
They have just one win this season and the end of the season can not come quick enough.
Because they struggle to score, the best betting play in this is the under total points because even if the Cats secure a big win, they will struggle to put on 120 points themselves.
Order has been restored as Richmond sit in ninth place through 15 rounds of football in season 2022.
There is a large portion of the media and plenty of punters claiming Richmond are Melbourne’s biggest threat to the premiership but they will find it tough if their season ends in August.
The Tigers are playing exciting football and at times have shown glimpses of their dominant premiership era, but they still have eight wins and six losses during this campaign.
Wins over Port Adelaide and Carlton had them briefly inside the eight but they play only two current top eight opponents in their last eight games which should see them play finals.
West Coast seems like a different outfit in the past couple of rounds.
They pushed Geelong all the way to lose by just three goals and before securing their second win of the season against Essendon last weekend.
They are no longer the pushovers of the competition and although Richmond will win this game, I’m predicting a tighter contest than the market suggests.
West Coast to lead at the end of any quarter.
Despite losing their last two, the GWS Giants have been competitive against the Dogs and Pies.
They have now lost against every team in the top 10.
Scoring has not been an issue for the Giants and they run into another team in Hawthorn that plays an attacking brand of football as well.
The Hawks have lost their last four straight including a 42 points loss to the Western Bulldogs last weekend.
They are a team that struggles to play four quarters of football but at times throughout the season they have cut teams up through the middle of the ground and scored at will.
Ten of Hawthorn’s last 11 matches have gone OVER the total match points line and the line has come up extremely skinny in my opinion.
This is my bet of the round.
Fremantle put together three wins in a row, including victories over Melbourne and the Lions but they dropped points against Carlton last weekend.
Despite that loss, they still find themselves ahead of the Blues in fourth spot with a better percentage.
Port kept their season alive with a narrow victory over the Gold Coast at home and they have now won three of their last four.
The only loss in that period was a two goal loss to Richmond.
Eleven of Fremantle’s last 14 matches at Optus Stadium have gone under the total match points line and I’m predicting an ugly but important win.