As our ELO model suggests, the top 8 is super tight. In fact, our simulations have a really tough time separating out clear favourites in our top 8 race. Data from The Arc, suggests that this is the tightest race we’ve ever had at this stage of the year. Considering that, anytime two top 8 teams play each other, its going to be important.
[ ](http://plussixoneblog.com/img/2016/07/importance_R15-1.png) We’ve got 2 top 8 clashes this week in Sydney v Geelong and WCE v North, which have big implications for the respective finishing positions of those teams. In fact, in the very short life of our Match Importance rating, the Sydney v Geelong clash is the most important game of the season.
The three most important matches are below:
Port Adelaide v Hawthorn, Thurs 7:20pm Adelaide Oval
The other super important match is this clash between 1st and 9th. Hawthorn is sitting pretty at the top of a very congested ladder while Port remains our best chance to jump into the top 8 according to our match simulations. The difference in a win or a loss for their top 8 chances is ~28%, so a win goes a long way to them making the leap. Hawks superior rating gives them the upper hand but HGA brings Port into it. **Hawks by 5 points. **
Geelong v Sydney, Fri 7:50pm Skilled Stadium
The clash between 2 of the premiership favourites according the bookies, our model has this as the most important match of the year so far (at least since I’ve been doing importance rankings). The percentage change in top 4 chances from a win or a loss is 36.5 for Sydney and 38.4 for Geelong! Our model gives Geelong the slight edge in ranking points, as the 3rd best team, while Sydney dropped slightly back to 5th after last weeks loss. The HGA gets Geelong a bit more of a bump. Geelong_** by 12 points. **_
WCE v NM, Sun 1:20pm Domain Stadium
Given how tight the top 8 is, this has big implications on the makeup of the bottom part of the 8. Both these teams are at most risk of dropping out of the 8. A loss here puts them behind the pack for top 4 and at risk of a rampaging finish by Port Adelaide. WCE are rated about 30 rating points better, with the home ground advantage. Eagles_** by 15 points. **_