Last year the Western Bulldogs made a late charge to reach the play-offs and go through to the qualifying final.
The odds seem against the club being able to achieve a similar result this season.
The Bulldogs have just seven wins from their 14 matches and an ordinary percentage of 100.1, which has them down in 10th place on the ladder, so the outlook is far from encouraging.
The side’s 11-point loss to Geelong in Round 14 was costly and any chance of reaching the finals will depend on the outcome of the encounter with West Coast at Metricon Stadium on Sunday night.
However, the prospects of the Bulldogs coming through the match successfully do seem to be relatively bright.
In this COVID-19 disrupted season the Luke Beveridge coached players go into the clash having had a bye in Round 15.
This will give the team the opportunity to re-group after surrendering a 36-point lead against the Cats.
Although still relatively early in his career Marcus Bontempelli is proving to be an inspiring leader for the Bulldogs and, with the support of Jack Macrae and others, he can be expected to show the way.
A lot is going to depend, though, on Tim English as he goes up against West Coast’s star ruckman Nic Naitanui.
Interestingly Naitanui is practically unbeatable in the ruck duels but he does not contribute to anywhere the same degree around the ground so English could prove himself to be at least as valuable.
While the Eagles scored their 10th win in beating Essendon by 15 points at The Gabba on Tuesday night they were hardly convincing.
In fact they struggled in the second half and a number of players seemed sore, and in a possibly sorry condition, on the final siren and now have had only four clear days to recover.
Worse still West Coast captain Luke Shuey suffered a debilitating hamstring injury against Essendon and the ever-reliable defender Jeremy McGovern is showing every sign of carrying an injury.
Former captain Shannon Hurn and the vastly improved Tom Barrass remain reliable in defence while Josh Kennedy, who will be back from concussion, Jack Darling and Liam Ryan are a dangerous trio in attack.
Ryan did not take any spectacular high marks against the Bombers but with four goals he could well be described as the match-winner and he will surely again be a handful for Easton Wood, Caleb Daniel and their fellow Bulldog defenders.
The three-point loss to Melbourne in Round 14 has put a severe dent in the finals possibilities for St. Kilda but the Saints can retain some hope by beating Hawthorn at Metricon on Sunday afternoon.
St Kilda has retained a respectable standard so far this season while the Hawks produced a dismal performance in gifting Adelaide their first victory in Round 15.
Added to that St Kilda goes into the game after having a bye and coach Brett Ratten has been emphasising to his players how much depends on the outcome.
Then mid-way through Sunday Geelong meets Essendon at The Gabba.
Even with captain Joel Selwood still missing the Cats should be triumphant with Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins playing so well.
The only match on Saturday, strange even in a strange season, should result in Port Adelaide retaining league leadership by dismissing the lowly North Melbourne at night at Metricon.
Collingwood and Richmond each have much needed byes.
Last Week Tipped: 4
Port Adelaide by 32pts
St. Kilda by 28pts
Geelong by 23pts
Western Bulldogs by 11pts
Melbourne by 16pts
GWS Giants by 15pts
Carlton by 27pts
Brisbane by 18pts