The majority of AFL captains expect Melbourne to break their 12-year finals absence but few predict much from recent premiers Western Bulldogs.
The Demons were the seventh-most popular option when skippers were polled on which seven teams besides their own would make the top-eight this year.
A margin of just half a percentage point last year denied Melbourne their first finals appearance since 2006.
The poll results released on Thursday showed unanimous support for perennial threats Sydney while more than half had Melbourne making finals.
While a quarter selected Hawthorn, Essendon or West Coast, just two captains see 2016's surprise premiers Bulldogs appearing in September.
A return to past glory is fancied though for 2016 Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield, who was picked by seven skippers to pick up the individual honour again.
Just three nominated Dustin Martin to win a second consecutive time.
Seven captains listed GWS as the biggest premiership threat while last year's grand finalists Richmond and Adelaide (five each) were also popular.
Geelong, who like GWS have made two consecutive preliminary finals, weren't selected at all.
Lance Franklin (12 votes) was by far the most popular option for the Coleman Medal ahead of West Coast tall Josh Kennedy (three).
Franklin won the award for a fourth time last year with 69 goals.
John Coleman himself and Collingwood's early stars Dick Lee and Gordon Coventry are the only players to have finished the league's leading goalkicker on more occasions.
The No.3 pick from 2017 draft, Carlton's Paddy Dow, was the most popular option for the Rising Star award ahead of No.4 pick, North Melbourne's Luke Davies-Uniacke.