We've collected the thoughts of nine sports producers and reporters across the Yahoo7 and 7 News Melbourne teams to predict the 2017 AFL ladder and find out who will make or miss the finals. Yesterday we analysed the bottom 10. Today we analyse the top eight.
It's no surprise at all to discover that the Giants have been tipped to win the minor premiership. They won 16 games last year and they look just as dangerous this time round. Brett Deledio won't play for a while and Stephen Coniglio will miss the first few rounds as well, but our experts aren't concerned.
There are a handful of injury worries with the Swans – Isaac Heeney and Jarrad McVeigh the two most concerning – yet they are so talented across their best 22 that a top-four berth is all but assured. Sydney haven't finished below fourth since 2011.
3. West Coast
The Eagles are one of the biggest wildcards of last year's top eight simply because of their ruck situation but their overall talent level is so high that playing with the likes of Jonathan Giles, Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie shouldn't heavily affect their win total. Their defence is right up there and they shouldn't have much problem kicking a score.
Seven of our nine tipsters have the reigning premiers finishing in the top four. But which Dogs are the real Dogs? They were ravaged by injury throughout the home and away season last year before catching fire in September. Their fixture will be a little harder, but if the Bulldogs are fit and playing close to their best they should at least match last year's 15 wins.
What have the Hawks done to deserve this? They've replaced the players they needed to, and they're Hawthorn. The last time they didn't win at least 16 games, Mark Thompson was still coaching Geelong. Only two of our panel have the Hawks in their top four, which would be a decent drop from their 17-win season last year.
How much did Patrick Dangerfield mask the Cats' problems in 2016? While one tipster has Geelong finishing on top, most have Chris Scott's team sitting around the lower half of the eight. Two have them finishing outside. If expectations hold, the Cats have three weeks to warm up before a big clash with Hawthorn.
Injuries and a lack of depth in the midfield could trouble the Crows again. Our panel suggests it's hard to see Adelaide replicating last year's efforts while comfortably reaching the finals. With the defensive and attacking talent they have, that's no real surprise.
8. St Kilda
As a general rule, at least two teams drop out of the eight each year. Our experts believe this year will be on the lighter side, with only the Saints breaking through. It wasn't unanimous, however. Three of our nine-man panel had St Kilda finishing outside the finals. Their defence has been beefed up and the Saints will be hoping for a healthy year out of Paddy McCartin, so what's to stop them?