AFL W2W4, R18: Will injuries cruel Collingwood's flag push?

Just six weeks remain in the 2018 home and away season and Round 18 offers up yet another mouth-watering line-up of matches which are set to take us a little closer to knowing who will make the final eight.

Could the Tigers lose two on the bounce? Are Geelong really a pretender? Can the Giants keep the momentum going against Port? How do the Hawks go without James Sicily? All of these questions and plenty more will be answered this weekend.

Here's What To Watch For in Round 18.

Has Collingwood's luck run out?

If you were one of the very few people who predicted the Magpies would be sitting third on the AFL ladder after 17 rounds, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

At 11-5, Collingwood are just one win behind ladder-leaders Richmond and on the cusp of a return to the finals for the first time since 2013, something which seemed improbable 12 months ago when many were calling for Nathan Buckley's head.

But a lot has changed since then. The star-studded midfield has finally clicked, Jaidyn Stephenson has transformed the forward line, Brodie Grundy's game has reached a new level and the tight matches that were being dropped in 2017 are now being turned into four points. Everything seems to be working for the Pies. Well, everything other than injuries.

At first it was just a depleted forward line with Jamie Elliott, Alex Fasolo, Jarryd Blair, Ben Reid and Darcy Moore all on the sidelines but in recent weeks more names have been added to Collingwood's injury list.

Adam Treloar's double hamstring tear, which he suffered against the Blues in Round 14, has ruled the star midfielder out for at least eight weeks and quite possibly the finals while unheralded key back Lynden Dunn's ruptured ACL, sustained a week later, has ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

Collingwood's seven game winning streak -- the club's longest since 2012 -- was snapped last weekend by West Coast and the Pies this week face a North Melbourne outfit reeling from a last-gasp loss to Sydney. With back-to-back games against Richmond and Sydney to come, a loss this weekend could be problematic.

Can the Lions continue to impact the finals race?

Six weeks ago, it might have been silly to ponder the impact the Lions might have on this year's race for the finals, but with six rounds left in the season, there wouldn't be many teams thrilled by the prospect of taking of Chris Fagan's men -- especially at the Gabba.

The Lions have won three on the trot with an average score of 112 points per game and are playing with a belief which brings a smile to anyone who watches them play.

Admittedly, Carlton are a step below the rest of the competition, but Brisbane did end Fremantle's (very) slim finals chances at Optus Stadium earlier this month, while Hawthorn were the latest to feel the wrath of the maturing Lion cubs.

As a result, Hawthorn's finals chances have diminished, and now it's Adelaide's turn to visit the Gabba to take on a side of young warriors who are keen to shake up the competition in the back end of 2018.

Make no mistake, by sitting 11th on the ladder -- four points and significant percentage points outside the eight -- it is quickly approaching last chance saloon for the Crows. Earlier in the season, Adelaide might have felt quietly comfortable about this fixture, but now it's looking like a significantly larger mountain to climb.

Could the Tigers drop two in a row?

The ladder leaders are coming off a heart-breaking loss to GWS in Sydney, but could this week bring Richmond two consecutive losses for the first time since Rounds 8 and 9 last year?

Sure, it's a far cry from dropping three, four or five in a row, but for a team many had pencilled in as winning back-to-back flags, dropping a second straight game could end up costing them a vital top two spot - and home ground advantage through the finals

The Saints are an interesting and somewhat tricky opponent for the Tigers; earlier this year, St Kilda had Richmond on the ropes midway through the third term at the MCG, while everyone remembers last year's clash at Etihad, which the Saints led 98-10 at half time.

The Saints themselves have won three of their last four and seem to have found some semblance of a game plan. Richmond -- not to the same extent as playing interstate -- haven't been as strong at Etihad as they have at the 'G, boasting an average winning margin of just 19 points at the Docklands compared to a staggering 46 at the home of football.

Richmond's strong form at the MCG has led many to hint that the premiership is all but a formality for a side which is (still) likely to swan through September at their home ground, but should they be forced to play a final outside of Victoria, then the pressure might rise.

If the Saints can get the job done, the chasing pack gets a little closer and some at Tigerland might start getting a little warm under the collar.