There is a lot at stake for the Essendon Bombers when they play the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium in Round 21 of the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
Eager to demonstrate that they have recovered from 2016, when they had to resort to players standing on the corner of Wurundjeri Way and Bourke Street holding placards inscribed, “Will play footy for food,” to fill the side, the Dons currently have the eighth and final finals spot.
They are tied with the West Coast Eagles, the Melbourne Demons and the Saint Kilda Saints at 40 premiership points each, so they draw has not been kind to them this week.
The Eagles on the other hand, have the Carlton Blues, while the Dees and the Saints will face off. For those two sides, this might be the equivalent of a finals game, as nothing other than a win will suffice.
West Coast has the most difficult remaining fixture. After the Blues, they play the GWS Giants and then finish out against the Crows over in Perth.
St. Kilda’s remaining schedule is no walk in the park, either, as they will conclude against a Richmond Tigers side jockeying for the best possible ladder position.
Melbourne has the easiest road to the finals. If they can get past the Saints, they finish out against the Brisbane Lions and the Collingwood Magpies.
There is not nearly so much potential drama at the top of the ladder. The Crows would have to suffer an epic collapse to fall from the top.
GWS and Richmond are playing for second and third on the ladder, which has some home ground implications. Geelong has fourth or better locked up, as their 50 premiership points has them six clear of the number five team, the Port Adelaide Power.