Our experts debate all the hot topics and burning questions as we head into the final home and away round.
Who is Collingwood's most important player?
Niall Seewang: I think we saw the answer in Monday night's Magpies vs. Suns clash. Jordan de Goey lit up Collingwood's forward line in his first game in almost two months - four goals from eight kicks and another goal assist showcased the damage he can do inside (and sometimes outside) 50. He's inconsistent, yes, but in a team that struggles to kick goals, he's absolutely invaluable.
Jake Michaels: It has to be Jordan De Goey. He's kicked nine goals in his past two games and when he's in the side, the Pies look a whole lot more dangerous, particularly forward of centre. He's an A-grade one-on-one player, good on the lead and dangerous at ground level. What's more, he can be thrown into the midfield for bursts to wrestle back any momentum. He's Collingwood's main man heading into finals ... he just needs to stay fit.
Matt Walsh: Is it any wonder that Brodie Grundy has had a down year (by his standards) and the Pies are only likely to just make the finals? When he was at his best last season, he was racking up 20 touches and a handful of clearances and tackles per game - and that's before we talk about his ruckwork! He might just be their most valuable player.
Jesse Robinson: Without doubt Scott Pendlebury is the club's most important player. He has missed a few games this year, leaving the door open for Taylor Adams to be their best player this season, but no one is more important to this club than their captain. He's been their best player for a decade now and arguably the league's best player of the last decade. They simply wouldn't be anywhere near as good without him.
Why aren't the Power being taken seriously as a flag threat?
NS: It's a very strange phenomenon. All the premiership talk seems to centre around Richmond, Geelong, Brisbane and even West Coast, but the team that has been on top of the ladder all year is somehow ranked (in most peoples' eyes) a rung below! Maybe it's the out-of-sight factor playing a role, with the majority of footy media either in Victoria or up in Queensland, but the Power should absolutely be considered a leading premiership chance. And they play great footy to watch, too.
JM: It's a great question. I don't think anyone is categorically saying the Power can't win the flag, it's more that they aren't giving them the credit they probably deserve. Still, I think the Tigers, Eagles, Cats and Lions are all more likely to win the flag this year than the Power (controversial, right!) so to me the lack of Port Adelaide hype does makes some sense.
MW: It's a hard one to pinpoint, because they are a big threat. I think it always takes time for a 'newcomer' to gain the respect and trust of the bookies as well as opposition fans, and this is reflected by where they sit in the betting market (fourth or so!). Sure, they've been top of the ladder all year, but can they perform in finals? At this stage it's an unknown, so perhaps that's why they're not being taken as seriously as one might think they should.
JR: The Power have consistently been a let down over the past few seasons - right when we have started to take them seriously they lose a winnable match and that could be playing into the discussion around them. They also have some pretty strong opposition in known quantities such as Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane that have impressed over the last two or three seasons that are probably viewed as more likely contenders for the flag in 2020.
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Did the Giants do the right thing in dropping Stephen Coniglio?
NS: I don't see what the fuss is about, to be honest. Shouldn't a coach simply select the best 22 each week? And after a pretty disappointing season from Coniglio in 2020, he would have been on the fringes of Leon Cameron's best team to face the Demons. And Cameron's bold call was only a smidgin away from appearing a masterstroke, with the Giants only just falling short against Melbourne. If they won, people would have praised the decision.
JM: It shouldn't matter who you are, if you're playing poorly then you should be dropped. It's as simple as that. Leon Cameron made a huge statement in dropping Coniglio and not just with the Giants skipper. The statement was to the whole underperforming side - nobody is exempt from being omitted from the team.
MW: Do they beat Melbourne if he plays? I think he's worth a one-goal difference despite his poor form, and I think it was the wrong move. I think the Giants needed a big kick up the bum for their poor performances this year, but with finals still on the line last week before their loss to Melbourne, dropping a player who could have had 20 touches and kicked a goal is a mistake.
JR: No, this was clearly a stunt and a stunt gone wrong. No one in the club or outside it could genuinely believe that Coniglio isn't in their best 22, let alone their top 10 players. If they were serious about this kind of thing, then arguably they should have dropped Jeremy Cameron as well or instead. If dropping Coniglio was intended to galvanise the group, it very obviously didn't work as they looked flat against the Demons and dropped another crucial game.
What letter grade would you give the Crows for 2020?
NS: I'd still give them a D+ but that's a huge improvement from the F they were facing just three games ago. They actually look pretty decent now, the Crows, and they'll head into the offseason with a fair bit of confidence. Contrast that to North Melbourne, who are above the Crows on percentage and look in a world of pain compared to Adelaide. Good work, Matthew Nicks and Co.
JM: Gee, three weeks ago it would have been a big red 'F' but all of a sudden the Crows have reason to smile and be somewhat bullish about 2021. Having said that, they're still likely to finish on the bottom of the ladder, so it's hard to get too excited about the overall season, which began with 13 straight losses. I'm going to bump them up to a D, and that's pretty generous.
MW: I'm giving them a D, just. They've, to put it bluntly, salvaged a disaster of a season in the nick of time, and have given themselves a platform for improvement in 2021. They now need to go to the draft, get some value at the trade table and build a list that Nicks likes. Plenty to like, but they've only just avoided a fail.
JR: My grade for the Crows is a C. We expected nothing and for much of the season that's we got, but a late season surge has shown a glimmer of hope for their rookie coach. Matthew Nicks has managed to get games into what looks to be some strong talent in Fischer McAsey, Andrew McPherson, Lachlan Scholl, Harry Schoenberg as well as good showings from mature recruit Shane McAdam. They're a few seasons and some free agents away from finals footy but with some signs of life in the list and more draft picks on the horizon - don't forget they also hold the Giants' first pick this year.