The ladder is as close as ever but will anyone stop Hawthorn?
With a third of the season to go and only eight points separating the league leading Hawthorn Hawks from the eighth placed West Coast Eagles, the race to the finals is as intense as ever.
Six teams sit on 40 points, tied for second and are aiming to achieve a run of consistency to guarantee a finish in the top half of the eight and book finals footy at home. This is the point of the season where teams need everything to go right because even the little things could be detrimental to a team's ambitions of winning the flag.
Here are the five key fixtures fans should keep an eye out for as finals footy beckons:
Friday July 8: Geelong Cats v Sydney Swans
If any team is capable of ending the Hawks' hopes of winning a fourth straight premiership, it could very likely be one of the teams that already beat Hawthorn this season. Both the Cats and Swans registered victories throughout the season albeit against a depleted Hawks side.
This match is the first and last meeting between the two sides but is one of high importance. A win keeps victor in touch with the league leading Hawks, whilst a loss could put a dent in the hopes of a top two finish.
Thursday July 14: Sydney Swans v Hawthorn Hawks
Five straight wins has placed the reigning premiers on top of the ladder though there is a very large target on their back as six teams sit only four points behind. This match could be a chance to take care of one of their nearest rivals and make a loud statement as the Hawks aim for a fourth straight flag.
For the Swans this is a must win. Depending on the result in the round prior, this match could write the script for the rest of the season for the Sydneysiders. Back to back victories could see the Swans on top of the ladder, whilst a reverse could potentially see them drop to seventh way behind the leading the pack.
Saturday August 6: Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne
Last season was Western Bulldogs first finals appearance since 2010 and the club has further improved this season. Four victories out of their last five has the Dogs knocking on Hawthorn's door and a victory against North Melbourne could help them kick it down.
Their opponents, the past five weeks have been hellish. Opening the season with nine straight wins, North Melbourne set the tone very loudly but four losses from their previous five outings has dropped them down with everyone else and importantly behind the Hawks.
Realistically North still have the same chance for finishing in the top two as any of the seven teams that lay around them, but they will need to find form quickly otherwise the free-fall will continue.
Saturday August 20: Port Adelaide v Adelaide
Port sit eight points outside the finals spots but a run of wins could see the gap close and keep their September dreams alive. Even with tough matches against Hawthorn, North Melbourne, GWS and Sydney beforehand anything is possible in the world of footy.
Even if Power head into this derby with their finals hopes buried, a chance to harm their bitter rivals' hopes for finishing in the top four would still be more than a consolation prize.
North Melbourne v GWS
It's hard to predict where these teams will be placed heading into the final round of the season, but it's almost certain that these two will be playing finals footy. With the ladder as close as it is, this match could be vital in determining the final placing for North Melbourne, GWS and everyone else around them.
The Giants are on the verge of playing finals footy for the first time in their short history and a win away in Melbourne could help the young franchise's hopes of hosting finals action.