For the first time this season we are starting to see some structure and differentiation between the top-8 sides in the FFSS Ratings. The gap between first in the ratings, Adelaide and eighth, North Melbourne is at it's largest point to date.
The arbitrary rule of tightness I have been using for most of the season no longer holds. No longer would the model favour the home team if any of the top-8 were to host an interstate brethren. If North were to host either Adelaide or Sydney this week, our tip would be with the travelling side. The Crows would also be slightly favoured in a trip to Spotless Stadium.
The competition ladder has also split itself into a top-4 group and a 5-8 group. The difference between which is only one game, but as we enter the run home, a one game difference grows in importance.
The top-3 on the ladder share our top-3 spots in the ratings which may be a sign of things to come, or may simply be a function of them having won more games. We probably still need more time to tell.
The other member of the top-4, the Western Bulldogs, haven't quite kept pace in a ratings sense, gaining very little after an unconvincing win over Richmond of Saturday night. But they still remain in the mix, as in truth, every one of the 8 does.
It seems unlikely that Port Adelaide will be able to bridge the difference in class between them and the 8, let alone make up the 3 game difference between them and any team with true ambitions of finals football.