After a round of upsets, Betfair Informer Mark Ricciuto sees some sense of the natural order of all-things-football being restored in this weekend in the AFL.
Round 11 marks the first of three consecutive weekends where six teams will get the opportunity to have a rest after a frenetic start and re-load for the second half of the season.
Three fewer games each weekend will also mean more spotlight turned onto the sides that are struggling.
Carlton is one of those sides and faces Geelong on Friday night in what should be a blockbuster under the roof at Etihad Stadium.
Geelong did what they had to do and beat the Giants last week, resting some premiership stars in the process, and all of a sudden find themselves back in the hunt. They should be strengthened significantly, with Tom Hawkins, Joel Corey, Corey Enright, David Wojcinski and Stephen Motlop all set to return having missed last week.
Carlton was belted by Port Adelaide in round ten, not just on the scoreboard, but on the stats sheet, losing most of the key performance indicators. After starting the year with a bang, early premiership favouritism seems to have got to the Blues, having lost three of their last four.
The month ahead is tough, with Carlton facing West Coast away, Hawthorn and Collingwood. They also have five of their best 22 on the sidelines in Carrazzo, Scotland, Waite, Laidler and Murphy, while Kreuzer, Henderson and Duigan are no certainties to play. A loss on Friday night could remarkably see Carlton slip outside the top eight, such is the evenness of the competition.
With Carlton's season well and truly at the cross roads, I'm picking the Cats will inflict more pain for the Blues and cover the 12.5 point line in my best bet of the round.
On Saturday night Essendon take on Sydney at Etihad Stadium in what looms as an important clash for both sides heading into their bye weekend.
Essendon had a shock loss to cellar dwellers Melbourne so will be keen to respond and not let a good start to the year be wasted.
The Dons were smashed in the tackle count and clearances, and will need to make amends against a potent Sydney midfield. They also need a lift from key forwards Michael Hurley and Stewart Crameri, who struggled to convert kicking six behinds between them. Tayte Pears looks certain to miss with a soft tissue injury, but Essendon appears set to welcome back Cale Hooker and Dyson Heppell.
Sydney was excellent last week against the Bulldogs, with conditions suiting their contested brand of footy. Blue collar midfielders in Jude Bolton (41 disposals and two goals), Kieran Jack (34 disposals and two goals) and Dan Hannebery (35 disposals) were dominant, while Lewis Jetta found plenty of space kicking four goals. The Swans will be looking for their first win in Melbourne for the year, but their job will be tough given Luke Parker (shoulder) and Ben McGlynn (suspension) will miss and Adam Goodes is still injured.
While Essendon's loss last week was a big surprise, I think they can bounce back against the Swans. Essendon have won their last eight games at Etihad by an average of 27 points, and this should continue Saturday night by covering the 9.5 point line
Collingwood will be looking to continue their run of seven straight victories on Monday when they take on Melbourne in the annual Queen's Birthday clash.
While the Pies were never headed against the Gold Coast, a scare went through their camp when Scott Pendlebury went down with what was thought to be a knee injury. Fortunately, he didn't become the Pies' fifth knee victim for the year, but a cracked tibia will keep him sidelined for a fortnight, which will hurt given they are already missing Dane Swan.
Melbourne finally got a win on the board by knocking off the Bombers, but life doesn't get any easier. Mark Neeld would have an intricate knowledge of the Collingwood players and game plan having served as an assistant, but I don't expect it to be enough to change the result. Given we won't know the final teams or weather until closer to Monday, it's difficult to give a prediction, but the Demons will be full of confidence and in wet conditions, I'd consider laying Collingwood at the 46.5 point line.