We're back to nine games as we wave goodbye to the byes and as always there's plenty of intrigue ahead, starting with Thursday night's clash between Essendon and GWS.
Here's What To Watch For in Round 15.
Can Dylan Shiel spark a Dons upset?
Two weeks ago, Dylan Shiel would have dreaded the possibility of coming up against the league's best tagger in Matt de Boer. Now, with the underrated Giant on the sidelines, Shiel has a chance to shine against his old teammates at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.
Shiel's form in his first year in black and red has polarised fans and experts alike, with the dynamic 26-year-old averaging a commendable 27 disposals, five tackles and six clearances a game, but he has also conceded the second most points from direct turnovers than any other player in the league, behind only Caleb Daniel.
But with the Bombers' finals hopes hanging by a thread -- not to mention the rising pressure on coach John Worsfold -- Shiel needs to lead from the front and ensure Essendon's midfield can match the powerful GWS onball brigade.
Essendon failed dismally in last Thursday night's test against West Coast on the road, but they're playing on their home deck this time around and might be catching GWS at an opportune time.
The Giants are coming off a bye and their form ahead of that week off was only so-so: A hard-fought win over North Melbourne and a loss to Adelaide. If the Bombers can catch them napping and match them through the midfield, it will go a long way to proving their September bonafides.
West Coast to end 13-year hoodoo
It's funny, nobody seems to be talking about West Coast right now.
The reigning premiers have won six of their last seven games and are sitting pretty in fourth on the ladder. As good as Geelong and Collingwood have been at various stages, you'd be crazy to say the Eagles can't go back-to-back.
This weekend Adam Simpson's side faces the struggling Hawks at the MCG -- their second trip to the home of football in 2019 -- and a win here might raise a few eyebrows.
You see, the Eagles haven't beaten Hawthorn at the MCG since Round 14, 2006 and for a fair chunk of time were considered failures on the big stage in Melbourne. However, they are a perfect four from four at the MCG since the beginning of last year and will go into this weekend's clash as a big favourite.
The mindset seems to be different now for West Coast. Instead of approaching the games at the MCG with trepidation, they are now viewing them as opportunities to show they are genuine flag contenders.
Adding to the spectacle is the return of Nic Naitanui. The star ruckman has not played since rupturing the ACL in his right knee against Collingwood in Round 17 last year.
🎙️ Is Dusty already Richmond's GOAT? 🤔— footytips (@footytips) September 30, 2019
🎙️ People are overrating Marlion's debut 🤷
🎙️ Dissecting the Gold Coast 'assistance package' 🧐
Ep. 29 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL podcast.
🎧 LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE ➡️ https://t.co/Crxx7XOLPm
Undermanned Dockers must not get complacent
Their loss to Melbourne last week wasn't unexpected once Jesse Hogan and Stephen Hill went down with injuries, leaving just two on the bench for most of the match, but the Dockers cannot afford to let slip a second straight match.
They welcome the bottom-of-the-ladder Blues to Optus Stadium on Sunday, but will do so without a host of prime movers. In addition to missing Hill and Hogan, Fremantle will be without impressive defender Alex Pearce, and tall forwards Rory Lobb and Matt Taberner.
With a significant amount of forward firepower missing, the Blues will be confident of keeping scores low and could potentially jag their third win for the year.
Liam Jones is set to return for Carlton, who will be fresh after the bye, while Charlie Curnow has been ominous in his two outings under caretaker David Teague.
Dockers superstar Nat Fyfe can expect some close attention from Blues stopper Ed Curnow, too, who has effectively locked down on Lachie Neale and Marcus Bontempelli in his last two starts.
If the Dockers are complacent heading into this clash, Carlton might trouble Ross Lyon's men, and a second straight loss might throw the Dockers' finals chances into doubt. It's up to Fyfe, David Mundy and Fremantle's other leaders to ensure they aren't troubled by the plucky Blues.