Well, the only thing left to say about the AFL now is, what on earth is going on. Conor McKenna - Essendon's brilliant Irish man - might have the weirdest case of COVID-19 in the world. The Gold Coast Suns - offseason whipping boys - are being talked about as premiers, whilst the West Coast and GWS are in all sorts. A fascinating ladder awaits at the end of Round 4.
Sydney Swans Vs Western Bulldogs - Thursday Night - 7:40 pm - SCG
An intriguing way to kick off Round 4. Sydney will look to get things going here. Expected by many to struggle this season, a 3-1 start has them squarely in the middle of the finals race. In the blue corner, the Bulldogs were superb in notching their first win over GWS last week.
In a way, last weekend was easy for the Bulldogs. Backs against the wall, everyone ready to come after your coach. A proper rivalry with some genuine dislike. If you can't get up for that, you are in strife. This week is the big test, can they avoid a drop in intensity.
Sydney needs to continue to tick the win column over whilst they wait on a fella called Lance Franklin to get healthy. Stupidly, many had written off Sydney, never a wise decision. They'll continue to chip away at 2020 with a hard thought win here.
Sydney by 19 points.
GWS Giants Vs Collingwood - Friday Night - 7:50 pm - Giants Stadium
When the new fixture came out, this is one that promised to be an early-season gem. After the 2019 preliminary final classic, this felt like a game that we might see again during the finals series. Whilst this game is critical, it happens in a very different context to what was expected.
Collingwood looked fast, clean, and strong as they took apart St Kilda last week to move into the top 4. Building nicely, they have a chance here to strike a telling blow to a fellow premiership fancy. It feels like a great time for Collingwood to go on the road.
GWS was all huff and puff last week, missing the mark against the Bulldogs. Sitting at 1-2, a tough match up with Hawthorn coming up next week, GWS is a real chance of finishing the opening stanza 1-4. A serious response is needed here. This is not a year you want to be playing catch-up.
Collingwood by 38 points.
Port Adelaide Vs West Coast - Saturday - 1:45pm - Metricon Stadium
Saturday kicks off with a crucial clash on the Gold Coast. In a similar vein to GWS, West Coast is moving towards their last chance saloon.
Will West Coast flip the form here? Improved against Brisbane, the Lions were able to ease away too easily. Hub life has not been kind to the Eagles, yet the light at the end of the tunnel is near. Cleared to return home under favourable quarantine conditions in the following weeks, is this the positive news the Eagles need through their camp?
Conversely, Port might be asking if they can stay on the Gold Coast, with two wins already there this year. Challenged early by Fremantle, when the rains came, Port was superb in the coal face. Their work around the football putting an end to Fremantle's tilt. Port should win this, and probably will, but I am tipping the upset here.
West Coast by 10 points.
St Kilda Vs Richmond - Saturday Twilight - 4:35 pm - Marvel Stadium
Saturday twilight footy presents a really interesting match. After one win, Nick Riewoldt decided it was a good idea to let Fox Footy have him anchor a pre-game montage pumping up the Saints return to relevance.
2 hours and a 44 point loss later, St Kilda left the MCG with their colours lowered. Football though is the land of opportunity; the Saints only have to wait one week for another crack at the competition's elite. An opportunity that in the context of 2020, they would be wise not to waste.
Richmond was thumped in a way people thought not possible by Hawthorn. Miles off the pace and intensity of the Hawks - only 9 tackles to half time - it was the most un-Richmond of performances. It happens. Especially when you are used to 80 000 one-eyed fans, an empty MCG is quite a large comedown. Expect Richmond to bounce back.
Richmond by 38 points.
Essendon Vs Carlton - Saturday Night - 7:40 pm - MCG. Game of the Round!
Essendon returns to action in Saturday night football from the G; taking on Carlton in the grand old rivalry. What a mouthwatering clash this is after last week's events.
Carlton was superb in defeating Geelong, overcoming one of the tougher away trips to do so. Desperate to see improved performance across the year, the win has thrown a bolt of energy into the Blues 2020 season. Essendon and St Kilda present a great opportunity for the navy blues to really build momentum. Can Carlton back up last week's performance, or was it a flash in the pan?
Essendon - no strangers to controversy - will be ready for football again after a strange week, even by their standards. The Bombers lost their captain for months on Friday, yet by Saturday that was out of the news cycle. The Bombers, for all the drama, are still undefeated and sit in 4th place, with a game in hand. After waiting 3 months to play again, last weekend must have been a nightmare. You should see a desperate Essendon team this weekend.
Essendon by 17 points.
Gold Coast Vs Fremantle - Saturday Night - 7:40 pm - Metricon Stadium
Winless Fremantle look to end Gold Coast's impressive start to 2020 in Saturday nights other game.
This is huge for the Coast. Last week's win was simply stunning; their execution-style destroying of Adelaide, a work of art. For the first time this week, they enter a game with expectations. Against a team yet to win, but who has shown the ability to play quality football, this has danger written all over it.
Round 4, D-Day for Fremantle?
Fremantle needs a reward for effort, they deserve a reward for effort. Honorable losses so far, an 0-4 start is getting towards quitting territory. It's time for the Dockers to piece together their best football for four quarters.
Fremantle by 28 points.
Brisbane Vs Adelaide - Sunday - 1:05 pm - The Gabba
If Fremantle is entering quitting territory, Adelaide might already be there. Brisbane should kick things off on Sunday with a straightforward win.
Embarrassed by the Suns, a response, a serious response is needed from the Crows. Yet they face a Brisbane team, at home, with a crowd, and with plenty to play for. A Lion's outfit starting to find its flow, a win here starts to entrench them in the top 4.
Brisbane by 38 points.
Melbourne vs Geelong - Sunday 3:35 pm - MCG
Melbourne goes into this game in the most unusual of circumstances. Their one point outlasting of Carlton a fortnight ago feels like it happened pre-isolation. Unfortunate players in last week's COVID drama, Melbourne must feel like their season has stalled again.
Geelong was horrid against Carlton. Yet, when they clicked into gear, they were able to run down Carlton at the click of the finger. The Cats appeared, at least subconsciously, to take Carlton too easy. Melbourne - who don't deserve such bad luck - are the team who will cop the reaction.
Geelong by 29 points.
Hawthorn Vs North Melbourne - Sunday Night - 6:05 pm - Marvel Stadium
Hawthorn and North round out Round 4 with an intriguing match. Winning will be rewarded with a 3-1 opening to the first quarter of the season.