AFL W2W4, R19: Tigers-Pies a grand final in July?

The watchability of the AFL has been placed firmly under the microscope in season 2018 but surely by now we've come to realise that the state of the game is in a good place.

We've had high scores, competitive matches, individual brilliance and unlikely winners while the race for a top eight berth is as tight as ever and almost certain to remain undetermined until the conclusion of Round 23.

Expect more of the same this week where we have one of the greatest home and away games in years, a number of clubs eyeing redemption and a Brownlow Medal race which is getting hotter with each passing week.

Here's What To Watch For in Round 19.

Is Tigers vs. Pies a grand final in July?

Forget match of the round, forget match of the year; this is arguably the home and away match of the century.

Think about it. Outside of finals, when was the last time the Melbourne Cricket Ground was expecting 95,000+ fans to cram the stands on a Saturday afternoon to watch two traditional rivals battle for top spot on the ladder? And crazily enough, the Magpie could finish Round 19 at the summit of the ladder (they would need a 90+ point win over the Tigers and for the Roos to knock off the Eagles).

Make no mistake, if Saturday's weather holds up, the combined 180,000 Richmond and Collingwood members will be clambering over each other to secure the hottest ticket in town.

Now to the footy.

The Tigers could not be tracking any better. Damien Hardiwck's side is sitting pretty at the top of the ladder, haven't lost in Melbourne in over 12 months and are odds-on favourite to win back-to-back premierships for the first time in 45 years. The only downside to their season has been some poor road form but against Collingwood at the MCG, that's completely redundant.

Many, including us, questioned the Magpies after a worrying home loss to West Coast in Round 17 but to their credit they responded in style with a dominant 66-point thrashing over finals hopeful North Melbourne. Even with key injuries, Collingwood have proven they can still mix it with the best and there's certainly no bigger test than Richmond at the MCG.

A win for the Tigers strengthens their bid for consecutive flags but a Pies victory would throw this whole season wide open. Do. Not. Miss. This.

Can the Swans and Power respond?

It's still astounding as to how quickly things can turn in football. Two weeks ago Sydney and Port Adelaide appeared to be top four locks yet heading into Round 19 there's major question marks surrounding both clubs who are no certainty to even make finals.

Six days on from their last-gasp win over North Melbourne, the Swans lost the seemingly unloseable game when they surrendered a five goal lead to Gold Coast at the SCG. With a handy quarter-time buffer, Sydney appeared to get complacent and lazy, allowing the Suns to get on top of them to record just about the greatest AFL upset in a decade.

At the moment it seems as though the Swans have too many injuries or players out of form to be a genuine premiership threat but you'd still be crazy to write them off ... wouldn't you?

Port Adelaide may have dropped a game to the Dockers in Perth but what would be more concerning for Ken Hinkley was his team's lack of fight and hunger for redemption when they returned home to face the Giants. They were outworked, outplayed and in the end lucky to only lose by 22 points in a game where the absence of ruck dynamo Paddy Ryder was stark.

Both sides face danger games this weekend and neither task is straight forward. The Swans travel to Melbourne to play one of the competition's in-form sides in Essendon while the Power are also on the road, facing the inconsistent Bulldogs in Ballarat.

With the top 12 so tight, another loss this weekend for either could be catastrophic.

The Brownlow race enters the final phase

This isn't so much of a specific Round 19 what to watch for but something to keep a close eye on over the final five rounds of the season.

Despite what bookmakers are suggesting, Tom Mitchell isn't that far ahead of the pack in the race for the 2018 Brownlow Medal. In fact, by our calculations, Carlton young gun Patrick Cripps is the likely leader after 18 rounds.

Just behind Cripps is Hawthorn ball-magnet Mitchell, silky Roo Shaun Higgins, Demons ruckman Max Gawn and former Lions skipper Dayne Beams. Oh, and don't rule out Andrew Gaff and Stephen Coniglio who have both enjoyed stellar seasons and are proven vote pollers.

Cripps has a big chance to add to his tally when the Blues face the Suns this weekend as does Mitchell who lines up for the Hawks against the Dockers - one of eight sides he averages 30+ disposals per game against. It will be a tougher ask for Gawn, who will square off against Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs as well as Higgins who will probably need to help North to a win over the second placed Eagles if he wishes to poll votes.

However, no matter how Round 19 pans out, this is the first wide open Brownlow race in years and with a potential 15 votes still up for grabs for each player, the next five weeks will almost certainly determine who takes home 'Charlie'.