The last of the regularly scheduled rounds before all hell breaks loose and we enjoy a festival of footy, Round 8 provides some brilliant match-ups. Every day brings at least one must-see game. A back-to-back serving of West Coast and Collingwood followed by Melbourne and Brisbane looks to be a delicious six hours of footy this Sunday.
Gold Coast Vs Western Bulldogs - Thursday Night 7:40 pm - Metricon
The Gold Coast could not be welcomed to prime time footy with a more entertaining match up. Pitting 7th against 9th, two of the leagues six four-win teams do battle in a critical game. The winner keeping pace with the top four.
The Bulldogs ran all over Essendon last week in an impressive outing, whilst the Sun's kept the Swans at bay with a classy showing. With people accepting now the Sun's are on track, there is still a feeling that this is not a finals team in 2020. Thursday night provides them with an opportunity to show otherwise.
Gold Coast by 19 points.
GWS Vs Richmond - Friday Night 7:50 pm - Giants Stadium
It isn't quite, but it's getting close to last chance saloon for the Giants. Dropping two games out of the eight with nine to play is less than ideal. Meanwhile, premiers Richmond are building strongly despite an extensive unavailable list. Winners of three in a row, a winning run in similar circumstances last year was crucial in their premiership run.
Talented, GWS can beat anyone, anytime. Richmond though arrives at Giants Stadium in a rich vein of form. Embracing the chance to leave their Gold Coast hub, the Tigers will send the Giants closer to the edge.
Richmond by 38 points.
North Melbourne Vs Carlton - Saturday 1:05 pm - Gabba
Saturday kicks off with a game that has upset written all over it. Carlton - superb in 2020 - are still a young team. Though they should win this against an ailing North, a graveyard 1pm kick-off against a team who have not won in over a month feels like a trap for a young team.
Continuing to lose players to injury, North is in desperate need of a win. Rhyce Shaw - praised often in the early days of this reign - is having questions asked of him all of the sudden. Quite simply, North need a response. Without one, 2020 is trending towards a wasted season of nothingness.
North by 3 points.
Sydney Vs Hawthorn - Saturday Twilight 3:35 pm - SCG
For the neutral, there is nothing that makes you turn this one on. For Swans and Hawks fans - whose teams are in horrendous form - there is every reason to tune in. Having lost their last seven games between them, one set of fans will finally enjoy a victory.
Whilst the Hawks have been horrible in their last two outings, the Swans have kept things close of recent times, just lacking any real punch. They were, however, respectful against the talented Gold Coast last week.
Sydney by 8 points.
Port Adelaide Vs St Kilda - Saturday Night 7:40 pm - Adelaide Oval
Excitingly, Adelaide Oval should be rocking for this one. 13,000 fans will provide the Port players with a wonderful welcome home. It should be a cracking football game as well. Whilst the Saints have been spotty, their best has been very good. They will need it.
Port - a game clear of the chasing pack - found a way to get it done last week, displaying the type of resilience you want to see from a premiership hopeful. Having successfully navigated their time in Queensland, they return home to solidify their grip on the league's minor premiership.
Port Adelaide by 27 points.
Adelaide Vs Essendon - Sunday 1:05 pm - Adelaide Oval
Fascinatingly, both Adelaide and Essendon will be eying this one off as the ideal game for their club at the ideal time. Adelaide - starting to show some glimpses - looked a winner when closing to within nine points of the Saints last week. They look to an Essendon team without a host of key players and see their opening win of the season there for the taking.
Essendon - who turned in one of 2020's worst performances last week - could not play a winless bottom-placed team at a better time. Furthermore, a road trip after three weeks in Queensland will freshen them up.
Essendon by 21 points.
West Coast Vs Collingwood - Sunday Twilight 3:35 pm - Optus Stadium
What a dandy. Finding their form in recent time, there is plenty on the line for both West Coast and Collingwood. Riding a three-game win streak, West Coast will look to ride home ground advantage throughout the rest of the season. Whilst yet to hit their straps, a top-four berth is well within reach.
Collingwood has displayed some of the best football at times in 2020, yet looked disorientated and slow at stages. Coming out of a rough patch, they appear to be finding their groove. Their win against Geelong last weekend was a powerful statement.
Collingwood by 17 points.
Melbourne Vs Brisbane - Sunday Evening 6:10 pm - Metricon Stadium
The AFL appears determined to ensure a team like Brisbane does not overly benefit from hosting a hub. As such, Brisbane fans will have to make a late Sunday night trip down the M1 to witness an enthralling clash.
Dead and buried two weeks ago, Melbourne have settled, producing some brilliant football while doing so. Now they test themselves. Improved undoubtedly, we'll be able to quantify this by the end of Sunday evening.
Brisbane responded well to their first post-COVID-19 loss. Winning handily, the Lions always looked the better team against GWS.
Brisbane by 11 points.
Fremantle Vs Geelong - Monday Night 8:10 pm - Optus Stadium
Life does not get any easier for a battling 15th placed Fremantle. Though they face Geelong at home, they'll face a Geelong team wanting to rebound after a poor loss to Collingwood. Furthermore, the Cats will be forced into changes, presenting the opportunity to players struggling to make the top 22 to press their claim. Expected a committed performance from the Cats.
Geelong by 28 points.