AFL Power Rankings: Magpies in freefall, Eagles stumble on the road

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Has the new concussion rule already let itself down? (3:29)

The ESPN Footy Podcast team discuss the shattering news that Chelsea Randall will miss the AFLW Grand Final, and wonder if the AFL could avoid a similar situation given their longer season. (3:29)

The Pies are the big movers in the AFL Power Rankings this week, after a shock five-goal loss to the Giants. Meanwhile, the Dogs remain top and the Dees and Swans keep rising, while the Eagles disappointed on the road -- again -- and their ranking reflects that.

Note: Throughout the year, ESPN will rank all 18 teams, from top to bottom, taking into account which teams are playing the best footy, injuries, each team's recent opponents, and which teams are looking most like flag contenders.

Previous rankings: Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4

1. Western Bulldogs
2021 record: 4-0
Previous ranking: 1

The Bulldogs are far and away the league's most in-form team, and a home game this week against the Suns at Marvel means they're almost certain to go 5-0 with an incredibly healthy percentage. Everything seems to be working - the stars are having good games, the role players are, well, playing their roles, and the Tim English-Josh Bruce-Aaron Naughton forward line is working.

This week's opponent: Gold Coast (Marvel Stadium)


2. Melbourne
2021 record: 4-0
Previous ranking: 4

Impressive stuff from the Dees, who beat a battle-hardened Geelong to go 4-0 for the first time since 1994. There's a sense of maturity about this group, and there's leadership on just about every line. Add in the addition of Mark Williams, who is a great fit to help mentor Simon Goodwin, and things are rosy at Gosch's Paddock.

This week's opponent: Hawthorn (MCG)


3. Port Adelaide
2021 record: 3-1
Previous ranking: 5

It doesn't make up for the preliminary final loss last year, but a win against the Tigers is always sweet. It also shows Port are on the right track in 2021. What we need to see next is a strong performance on the road. They face the Blues at the MCG this week, and although the Blues aren't a legitimate contender, they really need to just bank the four points - because it's what good teams do.

This week's opponent: Carlton (MCG)


4. Richmond
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 2

Again, we've seen the Tigers shake off slow starts before, so we're not yet concerned by 2-2, after all, beating the Power in Adelaide in prime time was always going to be a tough ask. This week is interesting; the Saints are suited to Marvel Stadium and will come into this clash confident of knocking off the reigning premiers with both teams at 2-2.

This week's opponent: St Kilda (Marvel Stadium)


5. Sydney
2021 record: 4-0
Previous ranking: 6

The Swans just keep on winning! Their heart-stopping victory over the Bombers showed they have the poise to close out tight matches, while coach John Longmire had a plan B up his sleeve as well. They're also ticking all the 'premiership boxes', according to Champion Data. We're starting to believe...

This week's opponent: GWS (SCG)


6. West Coast
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 3

The Eagles rose three spots last week after a win (at home) against a contender in Port Adelaide, and they've now fallen back three spots after blowing a 33-point lead against the Saints on the road. It sounds cliched, but they have a real problem away from home, as identified on the ESPN Footy Podcast. They'll probably beat the Pies at home this week, but until they do something extraordinary ... meh.

This week's opponent: Collingwood (Optus Stadium)


7. St Kilda
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 9

The Saints were about one quarter away from their season being pretty tough to salvage, but they -- stunningly -- erased a 33-point margin to beat the Eagles at Marvel Stadium. Can this kickstart something bigger? We'd love to believe it, but the tasks don't get any easier with the Tigers looming.

This week's opponent: Richmond (Marvel Stadium)


8. Geelong
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 7

Has Geelong's window closed? They were just about premiership favourites in the preseason given they topped up (with veterans) for what seemed like one last charge, but the Cats look lethargic and nowhere near as threatening forward of centre. Patrick Dangerfield returns this week, but they play North, so let's reassess in a couple of weeks.

This week's opponent: North Melbourne (GMHBA Stadium)


9. Carlton
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 10

Did anyone -- even at Carlton -- re-watch that dumpster fire of a match? Pocket the four points, burn the tapes and never speak of it again. The Carlton of a year or two ago would have lost that (and did - to a Jack Bowes winner in 2019), so that's some improvement, we guess. Good teams bank wins and while we're not convinced they're a good team yet, it's an important four points nonetheless.

This week's opponent: Port Adelaide (MCG)


10. Brisbane
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 8

We didn't expect the Lions to beat the Bulldogs in Ballarat after having lived on the road for more than two weeks, but a 1-3 hole isn't a good place in which to be. We do, however, expect them to beat the Bombers at the Gabba. We'll learn a lot about both 1-3 sides this week, and if the Lions are still legit, they'll win this and win it well.

This week's opponent: Essendon (Gabba)


11. Fremantle
2021 record: 2-2
Previous ranking: 12

The Dockers rise a spot this week after a win at home against Hawthorn, but we're more interested in what happens this week against the Crows in Adelaide. Like the Eagles, the Dockers have a real issue on the road, as highlighted in the ESPN Footy Podcast. We'll learn a lot about both the Dockers and the Crows this weekend.

This week's opponent: Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)


12. Adelaide
2021 record: 3-1
Previous ranking: 14

The Crows are creeping up, but we still don't trust them. Sure, 3-1 looks good on paper, but North isn't a win worth writing home about, and the Suns win the week before is looking less impressive. Freo are an interesting prospect, and if Adelaide can do a number on the Dockers, they'll keep rising.

This week's opponent: Fremantle (Adelaide Oval)


13. Hawthorn
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 13

Hawthorn hold 13th spot in the rankings for the third straight week. Winning in Perth is always a tough ask, and the Hawks let the Dockers jump out of the blocks too quickly and couldn't reel them in. Simply put, they can't do that against the Demons or they'll be blown off the park. To be fair, they may get blown off the park anyway...

This week's opponent: Melbourne (MCG)


14. GWS
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 16

What a relief for the Giants, who were under all sorts of pressure leading into last week's win over the Pies. The pressure is off, for now, so does that mean they have a 'nothing to lose' performance in them against the Swans at the SCG? Has their season finally been kickstarted?

This week's opponent: Sydney (SCG)


15. Essendon
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 15

What is it about narrow losses to the Swans? The Bombers weren't far off handing Sydney their first loss for the season, but fell agonisingly short. They're back on the road this week, with a meeting with Joe Daniher and the Lions looming up in Brisbane in what is a, strangely, winnable game. Essendon doesn't seem like a 1-4 side, butneither do the Lions, so make of that what you will!

This week's opponent: Brisbane (Gabba)


16. Collingwood
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 11

THUMP. You hear that? That's the sound of the Pies falling five places in the rankings, and it's the sound of just 29,000 fans walking out of the MCG early on Saturday night. You know what it's not the sound of? Interim presidents Mark Korda and Peter Murphy saying something - anything. We know Eddie McGuire probably spoke too much, but the club is in crisis and we're hearing nothing from the higher-ups. This is a crucial few weeks coming up for the Pies, Nathan Buckley and the fans.

This week's opponent: West Coast (Optus Stadium)


17. Gold Coast Suns
2021 record: 1-3
Previous ranking: 17

Are we in for another season of Gold Coast mediocrity? There was a lot of promise heading into this season, but Stuart Dew's men are 1-3 and staring down the barrel of another loss. Sure, the Matt Rowell injury didn't help, nor does the ruck situation but you can't help but feel let down by the Suns.

This week's opponent: Western Bulldogs (Marvel Stadium)


18. North Melbourne
2021 record: 0-4
Previous ranking: 18

North was well in their Round 4 clash with the Crows before Adelaide dominated the last quarter to streak away with a comfortable win. This is going to happen a bit in 2021 we feel - it's comes with the territory with playing younger players. Speaking of the kids, eight touches for Nick Larkey, Aiden Bonar and Tom Hayden, nine for Kyron Hayden, and seven for Charlie Lazzaro isn't going to help win games. Like we said, long year.

This week's opponent: Geelong (GMHBA Stadium)