AFL W2W4, R17: Are GWS still sleeping Giants?

With just seven rounds left in the home-and-away season, attention has well and truly turned to the top half of the AFL ladder, with 12 teams still a decent chance of finishing in the top eight.

The Crows and Bombers might have lost last weekend which dented their chances, but so did the Giants -- who face the Tigers this week in what could result in a damaging second straight loss for Leon Cameron's men.

Further up, the eighth-placed Hawks won't be taking their clash with the Lions lightly, while the Cats and Demons both need to keep winning in order to secure a home final and keep in touch with the top four.

You'll notice we haven't mentioned this week's Friday night 'blockbuster' between the Saints and Blues yet. Don't worry, keep reading.

Here's What To Watch For in Round 17.

Hawks must avoid slipping on another banana peel

It's not a sentence uttered often when it comes to matches between these teams, but the Lions can sweep the Hawks and do significant damage Hawthorn's top eight hopes with a win on Saturday.

Earlier this year, Hawthorn was on the end of one of the season's biggest wake-up calls when Brisbane spanked Alastair Clarkson's men to the tune of 56 points at the Gabba.

Now, come Round 17 and the reverse fixture down in Launceston, the pressure is on the Hawks to beat a Brisbane side which has suddenly become one of the competition's form teams.

For context, the Hawks sit eighth on the ladder on 36 points, behind Geelong and Melbourne (but above North Melbourne) on percentage. Further back are the Giants in 10th on 34 points and the Crows in 11th on 28 points. Dropping a game to the Lions -- who have won their past two -- could prove disastrous for the Hawks' finals hopes considering the pressure coming from below them on the ladder, and the Hawks' mediocre percentage.

Brisbane, on the other hand, will be intent on beating the Hawks twice in the same season for the first time since 2006 -- the only time Clarkson has been swept by the Lions.

Speaking of reversing the fixture, the Swans visit Etihad Stadium to play the Kangaroos on Sunday, and Sydney won't need reminding of what happened when these teams met in Sydney earlier in the year.

Friday night's clash won't be as bad as you think

Okay, okay, we know what you're thinking; how on earth can St Kilda vs. Carlton on Friday night be anything more than a fixturing error by the AFL?

Well on the surface it's a fair assessment given there's a number of genuine blockbusters slated for Round 17 and these sides have been two of the most disappointing in 2018, but have a little faith with us on this one.

Obviously neither side is going to be playing finals this year and one is almost a certainty to be collecting the wooden spoon come season's end, yet Friday's game could quite possibly turn out to be the closest and most thrilling of the round with both teams looking to seize the opportunity of a rare Friday night showing. The Saints (3-1-11) and Blues (1-14) are very evenly matched and have split the past eight meetings 4-4, not to mention the many players who are fighting for their football futures.

It won't just be players under pressure, either. The result could have serious ramifications on the future of head coaches Alan Richardson and Brendon Bolton, who are both under pressure to prove they should be leading their respective clubs.

If you're still not convinced about it, then we'll leave you with one final reason to tune in: Charlie Curnow. If you haven't seen Carlton's star forward in action then do yourself a favour and get along to Etihad Stadium on Friday, or plonk yourself in front of a TV screen. Curnow has booted 10 goals from his past three matches and with Jake Carlisle in doubt for the Saints, could be set to take another game by the scruff of the neck.

Are they still the sleeping Giants?

When the Giants resuscitated their faltering season with a four-week winning streak from rounds 11-15, many assumed Leon Cameron's men were marching towards not just the finals but a possible premiership run.

That may still be the case, but last weekend's loss to a depleted West Coast put a huge spanner in the works.

GWS are still within striking distance of the top eight, sitting only two points and percentage behind eighth-placed Hawthorn, but a loss to Richmond this weekend could again have their season teetering on a knife's edge.

Richmond are red-hot and appear almost invincible at the MCG, but a glimmer of hope for the Giants is their rival's away form -- their only three losses this year have come on the road -- and the fact the Tigers will be without Jack Graham (shoulder), Dan Butler (ankle) and Nathan Broad (cheekbone) for the Saturday night clash.

The Giants are themselves depleted, especially up forward without Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron, but they've got to find a way to get over the line against the reigning premiers.

Because as deeply talented as the Giants are -- and more reinforcements are on the way -- it's a long way back from two wins plus percentage outside the eight with six rounds left, and a daunting Round 18 clash against the Power at Adelaide Oval.