AFL Power Rankings Round 17: The finals are now in sight

The AFL is tightening up with just six rounds left for finals and just six weeks left for some teams for this season.

Catch up on this week's edition of Edge of the Crowd's Power Rankings.

Last week's rankings are in brackets.

1. Geelong (2)

The Cats started the weekend with a comprehensive win over the Melbourne Demons, stamping their authority as the leader of the power rankings and one of the flag favourites. Doing it without Tom Stewart, who has been a crucial defender, made it even more impressive.

Patrick Dangerfield put in his best performance of the year as the dominant player on the ground, as he tallied 32 disposals, nine clearances and four shots on goal. While all four missed, it was a warning shot of how dangerous Dangerfield can be as the Cats head towards September.

Mitch Duncan (32 disposals, 11 marks and two goals) and Cam Guthrie (28 disposals, seven tackles and two goals) were both key late, as the Cats kicked away from the Demons' late comeback to win with authority.

2. Melbourne (1)

The Demons fought hard and challenged the Cats late before they ran out of puff at the end of the match. Luke Jackson and Max Gawn were back as a duo and dominated the hit-outs but were unable to dominate at ground level in the middle.

Jack Viney lost no admirers for his efforts, as he had 35 disposals and nine inside 50s as he fought his hardest for the Demons. With him, every step of the way was Clayton Oliver (34 disposals and ten clearances), as the Demons duo fought hard, along with Christian Petracca (three goals).

In the end, the Demons didn't have the firepower to stop the Cats from scoring and didn't have the defensive ability to control the Cats' midfielders and small forwards. They will count the cost of the loss, with potential weaknesses against small forwards like Tyson Stengle exposed and Clayton Oliver suffering a fractured thumb.

3. Fremantle (3)

The Dockers flexed their muscles over fellow finals hopefuls, the Saints, as they kicked away in the final quarter to keep the Dockers within touching distance of a home qualifying final.

Nat Fyfe was a slow starter, but in the second half, he provided the spark for the Dockers as they went on a six-goal rampage to start the second half, with three coming from Fyfe. The Brownlow medalist was also a nightmare in the forward 50, with his size, speed and strength proving a difficult match-up.

Andrew Brayshaw and Jordan Clark were dominant in the middle, but Rory Lobb was one of the most impressive players on the ground, with 14 disposals, two goals and a strong influence as a pinch-hitting ruckman at times.

4. Brisbane (4)

The Bombers edged out the Lions on the scoreboard, but it was COVID-19 that did the real damage for the top four contender. Between the health and safety protocols and injuries to stars, the Lions were missing almost half of their regular side.

Hugh McCluggage didn't let that slow him down, as he had 29 disposals to be the Lions' best performer. Lincoln McCarthy dominated in the forward line, taking advantage of McCluggage's run and carry to kick three goals. Mitch Robinson capitalised on being included in the team, with 19 disposals and two goals.

The Lions will be hoping to regain a host of stars for this weekend's clash against the Giants and will be looking to rebound back to their best ahead of the finals.

5. Sydney (7)

After losing to Essendon last week, the Swans started Friday night against the Western Bulldogs like they had a point to prove. After laying 50 points down by quarter time, the point was made.

The Swans dominated the match from the beginning, on the back of Chad Warner starring for the Swans in the midfield. Warner had 25 disposals, 11 inside 50s and a goal. Also, starring was Tom Papley, who had 24 disposals, but let himself down in front of goal, kicking 2.5 for the night.

Joel Amartey was selected for the Swans, and the Amartey Party was in full swing in the first quarter with two goals. He spent less time in the forward line later in the game, pinch-hitting as a ruckman after Peter Ladhams went down with an injury.

6. Collingwood (6)

The Magpies were far from convincing in their match-up against the Kangaroos, producing a lucky escape to keep their finals chances on track as they were tested by the likely wooden spooners.

The Daicos brothers were among Collingwood's best, as Josh tallied 28 disposals and Nick managed 21, while each also found a goal. Darcy Cameron was also a standout for the Magpies, leading the team with three goals.

The fact that it took until late in the final quarter for the Magpies to put the Kangaroos away will be cause for concern for Craig McRae, as the Magpies face some tough tests in the final weeks of the season.

7. Carlton (8)

The Blues were dominant for three quarters against the Eagles and might have been asleep for the second quarter. Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow significantly saved the Blues from embarrassment, kicking ten goals between them.

George Hewett was one of the Blues' best, with 26 disposals and eight clearances, as he continued his emergence as one of the recruits of the year. Patrick Cripps finished strongly, with 24 touches and ten clearances, although most of that damage was in the final quarter.

The Blues have a strong chance of playing finals for the first time since 2013 and are even a chance at a top-four finish, depending on how their cards fall in the season's final weeks.

8. St Kilda (5)

The Saints continued their yo-yo around the Power Rankings, reflecting their Jekyll and Hyde season. The high-powered midfield was strong, particularly in the first half, as Zak Jones had 27 touches and Brad Crouch had 30.

The forward line was also functioning for the Saints, as Dan Butler, Max King and Tim Membrey each kicked two goals, but the Saints could not convert their first-half dominance on the scoreboard - struggling to move the ball inside forward 50.

The Saints will be ruing their chance to keep in touch with the top four as their finals hopes start to slip, especially with a tough run home and plenty of challenges left this season.

9. Richmond (9)

The Tigers fought hard, but their inability to put the game beyond reach came back to hurt them. Jake Aarts and Maurice Rioli Jr weren't the only ones to miss late goals, as Jason Castagna was also guilty of that.

Further afield, Shai Bolton (29 disposals and three goals) and Daniel Rioli (31 disposals) were among the best players on the field, and helped steer the Tigers to a strong position.

They will be frustrated to have let the game slip, as a win would have been a chance to take a four-point advantage over ninth and a two-win buffer over 10th, but instead, the Tigers will have to settle for being close.

10. Gold Coast (11)

For the second time in club history, the Suns won a match over the Tigers with a goal after the final siren, as Noah Anderson calmly slotted the winning goal from just inside forward 50. Moments earlier, Charlie Ballard had been the hero, with his desperate smother on Jason Castagna preventing a certain goal.

Ben Ainsworth and Anderson each had 26 disposals and two goals in support of Touk Miller (27 disposals, 11 clearances and a goal) as the Suns' midfield brigade held their own against the Tigers. The Suns fought hard and didn't give up, and Mabior Chol played a crucial role against his former club with three goals.

The Suns were down by 40 points during the third quarter and 28 at three-quarter time and were gone for all money, but a gradual fightback, and some late luck, helped carry them to a win to square their season.

11. Port Adelaide (12)

The Power stayed in touch with the top eight with a thumping win over the Giants to stay just a game outside a finals spot. It was the young guns leading the way for the Power, in a particularly pleasing result.

Conor Rozee had four goals and 24 disposals, while Zak Butters made a triumphant return from injury, tallying 26 touches to have the most on the team. Jeremy Finlayson also played a strong hand against his old side, with 13 hit-outs, 22 touches and five clearances.

Todd Marshall's accurate kicking continued, as he kicked 2.1, to be sitting at 32.9 for the season, as the most accurate goalkicker this season. The Power will take comfort from the win but have a tough month ahead to secure a finals berth.

12. Western Bulldogs (10)

The Western Bulldogs will be looking to forget Friday night's performance against the Swans as quickly as possible. After coming into the match fighting for a spot in the eight, they didn't play like they were even playing for pride.

Cody Weightman fought hard, kicking two goals, and could have had another three, while Adam Treloar was the most prolific player on the ground, with 32 disposals.

The loss leaves the Bulldogs in a precarious position for finals, as they face a tough run home and will now face the risk of being a Grand Finalist who misses the finals the season after.

13. Essendon (14)

The Bombers continued their giant-killing run and steady rise up the Power Rankings. It didn't matter that the Lions were depleted against the Bombers, who showed no mercy, and put the game away in the clutch.

Peter Wright stood out with five goals, including four after halftime to keep the Lions at bay, while Zach Merrett was dominant on the ball, with 31 disposals.

Kyle Langford dominated the second quarter with three goals as Nick Hind, and Dylan Shiel tore through the Lions, finding acres of space and teammates with pinpoint accuracy.

14. GWS (13)

The Giants' performance on the field on the weekend was poor, as the Power smashed them, but the cost of the loss will hit the hardest. Phil Davis suffered a season-ending injury that may be career-ending for the stalwart.

Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly led from the front for the Giants, with 32 and 27 disposals, respectively, while Jesse Hogan was the Giants' only multiple goalkicker.

The Giants couldn't make a real charge in the second half, strangling six shots on goal in the third quarter but only kicking one goal. It was a night to forget for the Giants, who will be hoping to put it behind them quickly.

15. Hawthorn (16)

Mitch Lewis was the star for the Hawks, with five goals as the Hawks coasted to a big win over the Crows. The Hawks leapt out of the blocks with six goals in the first quarter and kept a comfortable lead for the rest of the match.

Jaeger O'Meara seemed to break the Crows' spirited comeback with his fourth-quarter goal, as he had 20 disposals and five tackles in an important performance. Blake Hardwick was immense in defence with 32 disposals and eight marks for the Hawks.

Luke Breust supported Lewis up forward, with two goals of his own, while Jarman Impey should have had more than one goal from his four scoring shots.

16. Adelaide (15)

The Crows were blown out of the match early, and while they didn't give up, they could never get the game back on their terms. A tight second half, which started with three goals to the Crows, gave them hope, but that was all there was to it.

Matt Crouch enjoyed his return from playing in the SANFL, with 28 touches, six tackles and seven clearances in a strong performance. Rory Laird accumulated more ball than anybody, with 42 disposals and seven tackles of his own.

For the Crows, it was a continuation of their slide in form in recent weeks, as the intensity around the contest has been an issue, and the missing talent from their list that is sitting in the casualty ward takes its toll.

17. West Coast (17)

The Eagles were just about the most disappointing side of the weekend for three quarters. The Eagles were scoreless at quarter time, scored seven goals in the second quarter, and added just one more for the match.

The Eagles hadn't even managed a disposal inside 50 in the first quarter, conceding 17 inside 50 entries (into their defensive end) in the first 17 minutes of the quarter.

Josh Kennedy celebrated a milestone, kicking his 700th goal for the Eagles, and extended his lead at the top of the club goal-kicking standings.

For the Eagles, though, the end of the season can't come quick enough so they can turn the page on this year and look to improve next season.

18. North Melbourne (18)

The Kangaroos fought hard in a much-improved effort from last week. It wasn't enough to save David Noble's job, but it was a stronger showing than in recent weeks.

Nick Larkey was dominant inside forward 50, kicking five goals, while Todd Goldstein and Jack Ziebell each chipped in two of their own. Jed Anderson and Jy Simpkin played strong games on the ball, with 33 and 31 disposals, respectively.

The best player on the ground was Luke Davies-Uniacke, as he tallied 33 disposals, 11 tackles, 12 clearances and 14 inside 50s in a masterful performance. His ability to bring the ball into the forward line, straight through the ground and without turning the ball over was a key part of how the Kangaroos were close to pulling off a stunning upset.