This weekend’s round of AFL kicks off when North Melbourne host Collingwood at the Telstra Dome on Friday night. North Melbourne showed plenty of promise at the beginning of the season before a recent form slump has seen them plummet out of the top eight and into real danger of missing this year’s final series.

Collingwood have been very inconsistent this year. They are making a habit of winning two or three on the trot against quality opposition, only to fall short against lesser opponents.

The last time these two sides met there was plenty of controversy when perhaps the worst centre bounce in the game’s long history arguably cost Collingwood the game in the dying seconds. Needless to say there is no love lost here.

This season’s long awaited clash of the big guns sees Geelong host the Western Bulldogs in a match up that will see either the Cats hang onto top spot, or the Dogs reclaim the position they held for just a few short days over the split round.

The Bulldogs have proven themselves as genuine flag contenders but need to overcome the stigma that Geelong is unbeatable if they are to challenge.

Saturday’s local derby at the MCG is between two long-standing clubs with plenty of history. Richmond will take home ground advantage over Essendon in a game that will be more about pride than position as the two sides are separated by just two points on the ladder (11th and 12th respectively).

Both teams have had reasonable form coming into this match. Punters should look for a fairly high-scoring match with a good chance of seeing over 250 points.

The West Coast Eagles travel to Brisbane to meet the Lions at the Gabba after losing their last six matches straight by a staggering average of 66 points – three of those at home by an average of 72.3 points.

They will not bother the Lions in this one. Look for Jonathon Brown and Daniel Bradshaw in the head-to-head goal kicking with Brown to outdo Bradshaw by about seven goals to five.

St. Kilda has put themselves back in the finals hunt with a few convincing wins in a row. After making sure Carlton stayed in the bottom half of the competition last week, they set their sights on ‘the big three’ and a showdown with Hawthorn at the Telstra Dome on Saturday Night.

St. Kilda have had mixed results at the Telstra Dome (have won 56.3%) but have beaten Hawthorn in five of their last six encounters by an average of just under 45 points.

The Hawks are going to start to feel the pressure of being a genuine contender and the Saints may just have their season back on track.

Sydney and Adelaide appear to have begun the slide down the ladder and really need to dig their heels in to stop.

Sydney meet Carlton at the Telstra Dome and look to have hit a bit of snag in their campaign to make the finals for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Carlton’s ability to chip the ball around and create space may be too much for the stifling Swans who are missing Amon Buchanon and Barry Hall through suspension.

Adelaide head into the local derby against Port Adelaide on very shaky ground. This will be a game of pride and Port Adelaide might recapture some of the form that put them into last year’s Grand Final to overcome their South Australian counterparts. Adelaide will really struggle to stay in the finals race after losing three of the best in Andrew McLeod, Brett Burton and Jason Porplyzia.

The final game of the round sees a laughable match between two of the three worst performed teams this year.

With very little form to go on, Fremantle’s only saving grace may be that they are playing at home in front of a crowd that has been too often disappointed this year.

Melbourne has shown a great amount of club spirit of late but have not traveled well this year and this will be no exception. This one could go either way and it is one to avoid for punters.

The writer, James Campbell, consults for Betfair, advising punters on value AFL bets.