THERE is just five weeks of football left in the season and for all intents and purposes the remainder of the home and away games are poised to shape the finals picture.
The only position that is up-for-grabs is eighth, which should be settled on Saturday as the incumbent holders North Melbourne face off against ninth placed St Kilda.
Geelong and the Western Bulldogs clash on Friday night in a match that should decide which of the two goes into the finals with the double chance.
It looms as a finals-defining round of football.
All odds this week are provided by sportsbet.com.au.
Selections for the Round 19 AFL multi of the week:
Geelong to beat Western Bulldogs ($1.27)
West Coast to defeat Collingwood ($1.60)
St Kilda to defeat North Melbourne ($2.42)
Sydney to defeat Fremantle ($1.19)
Geelong vs. Western Bulldogs
Friday, July 29 from 7.50pm at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Two teams that are harbouring top-four aspirations are effectively playing for a double chance spot to kick off round 19.
The Cats are coming off one of their best wins in the second half of the season, a shutout five goal victory over the form team of the competition; the Adelaide Crows.
Geelong kept the Crows at arm’s length for the entirety of the contest and never looked like conceding defeat.
For the Dogs, they were just lucky to escape last Saturday night in one piece.
The Bulldogs’ lost key forward Jack Redpath and emerging midfielder Mitch Wallis to season-ending injuries in Saturday’s shock loss to St Kilda.
Luke Beveridge is also set to be without defender Dale Morris, who failed to play out the second half on Saturday night.
The Morris-less Dogs will have a hard time quelling the influence of Tom Hawkins, who booted a game-high four goals in testing conditions last week.
We are expecting the Cats to crush the Dogs.
Multi tip: Geelong to win – $1.27
Collingwood vs. West Coast
Saturday, July 30 from 4.05pm at the MCG, Melbourne
The travel-fearing West Coast Eagles fly over to Melbourne to face the Magpies on Saturday afternoon that looms as a pivotal clash for the visitors.
The West Coast Eagles are locked on points alongside six other sides inside the top eight – they need to win to keep their hopes of securing a double chance alive.
The Eagles are looking to continue a dominant run against the Pies which has seen them win three straight games by an average winning margin of 51 points.
The record at the MCG is not pretty reading for West Coast however, given Collingwood has a 10-1 record against Eagles at the venue.
It is a must-win game against opposition they are expected to beat – if they are to make any impact in September the Eagles simply have to win this game.
We expect them to break the travel hoodoo and record an important win.
Multi tip: West Coast to win – $1.60
North Melbourne vs. St Kilda
Saturday, July 30 from 7.25pm at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
It is Boomer time on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium as the milestone man and his Kangaroos host the Saints in a significant match for a plethora of reasons.
Brent ‘Boomer’ Harvey breaks the all-time games record in this match, but more importantly for his side they need to win to consolidate their position inside the top eight.
The Saints are out to spoil the party, and they bring fantastic form into the contest.
St Kilda kept their unlikely run to a finals berth running last Saturday night, overrunning the Western Bulldogs to move within eight points of the finals.
The Saints are $6 at sportsbet.com.au to play finals in 2016.
Most teams like to think a milestone will get their players up and about for the occasion but the Roos were lucky last week the Magpies were unfocused early in their match otherwise they would have lost.
The Saints will be focused and will not give the Roos the same head start the Pies did, and we are backing them to cause a Boomer boilover on Saturday night.
Multi tip: St Kilda to win – $2.42
Fremantle vs. Sydney
Sunday, July 31 from 3.20pm at Domain Stadium, Perth
Another milestone match rounds out our multi this weekend as Matthew Pavlich’s Fremantle face the Sydney Swans at Domain Stadium.
The Pav plays game 350, making him just the 15th player in AFL history to do so and the first ever Fremantle player to reach the magical milestone.
History is on the Dockers’ side.
Fremantle has won the last two encounters between the sides, including last year’s epic qualifying final at Domain Stadium.
You have to look back six years to 2010 to find the last time the Swans defeated the Dockers at Domain Stadium.
The Swans are in dire need of a win to start to build some momentum towards the finals.
Their win against Carlton last week was unconvincing, and a failure to beat Fremantle here could potentially cost them a top four spot.
We are backing the Swans to come away with a win in the west to keep their double chance hopes alive.
Multi tip: Sydney to win – $1.19