The 2023 AFL season has provided plenty of drama surrounding multiple teams' successes.

For one, both grand finalist teams from 2022 have severely underperformed despite both looking set for another run at the flag. Teams just outside of the eight in 2022 have slipped, some who seemed on the rise have inexplicably gone backward ... It's been a strange season.

Despite the results so far, the finals race is well and truly heating up. The top four teams look set, however, the bottom four of the eight are up for grabs.

As it sits after the conclusion of Round 18, positions six, seven, eight, and nine are all on equal points. In fact, the 13th-placed Gold Coast Suns only sit one game out of the eight. It's remarkable, really.

The GWS Giants are knocking on the door of the eight, currently only sitting outside due to percentage. Carlton has managed to overcome their early-season blues and is right back in the hunt, aiming to play finals for the first time in a decade. Meanwhile, the Tigers just can't seem to stay out of the fight for finals despite their decline since premiership glory.

With just six weeks to go until the finals commence, which team currently outside of the top eight manages to scrape in? Our team gives their thoughts below in our latest Roundtable:

Mitch Keating: GWS

The Giants have been among the form teams of the competition over the past six or so rounds and loom likely to continue on their upward trajectory across the final few rounds of the season, where they'll face several clubs also looking to leap into the September window.

The return of All-Australian defender Sam Taylor has done wonders for Adam Kingsley and his men, who should be chalking up a win against the Suns and Dogs in the next two weeks if their current vein of form is anything to go by.

The Dogs are likely one of two clubs that will fall out of the eight, with Essendon - another upcoming GWS opponent - a chance to be the other, if not St Kilda. A Round 21 Sydney Derby will be a mouth-watering affair for Giants fans, while they'll be needing to prove their worth against Port Adelaide and Carlton away from home in the final three rounds.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Toby Greene of the Giants celebrates a goal during the round 21 AFL match between Geelong Cats and Greater Western Sydney Giants at GMHBA Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Jack Jovanovski: GWS

GWS, Richmond, and Carlton appear the most dangerous sides outside the top eight that seem the most likely to stamp a September ticket. However, if I have to back one horse, it's Adam Kingsley's Giants.

Kingsley's arrival has rejuvenated what seemed a diminishing cause after Leon Cameron's departure, sprinkling some of the magic dust of Richmond's premiership dynasty onto a spritely, youthful playing group in West Sydney.

A character-defining victory over the Crows at their Adelaide fortress last weekend has many in the footballing sphere taking notice, and with home matchups against Gold Coast, Sydney, and Essendon still to come, it's going to be hard to keep GWS at bay.

Plus, from a neutral perspective, they're the feel-good story from this bunch.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 29: Xavier O'Halloran of the Giants celebrates with Toby Bedford of the Giants after kicking a goal during the round seven AFL match between Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants at Sydney Cricket Ground, on April 29, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Josh De Sa: Carlton

The Blues are finally performing to the level that they were expected to prior to the commencement of the season. Despite not making finals in 2022 after missing out by a single point at the hands of Collingwood, they seemed primed for a finals berth.

Unfortunately, the start of their 2023 campaign was nothing short of disappointing. With a questionable gameplan, players underperforming and some possible off-field issues, serious doubts were raised.

However, whatever coach Michael Voss has changed is working. The team is moving the ball quicker, their skill level has drastically improved and the quality of their wins has been very impressive. Their run home is a bit of a mixed bag, if they cause a couple of upsets and win the ones they absolutely must, finals look likely.

They will beat the West Coast Eagles at Marvel, and assume a loss to the Pies at the MCG however anything could happen there. Wins against the Saints, Suns and Giants while losing to the Demons seems fair. That would leave their record as 12 wins, 10 losses and a draw. The Blues might finally be back.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 30: Charlie Curnow of the Blues celebrates a goal during the 2018 AFL round15 match between the Carlton Blues and the Port Adelaide Power at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 30, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Ed Carmine: Richmond

To punch another finals ticket, the Tigers will need to win the lion's share of clashes against fellow contenders in the Dees, Dogs, Saints and Power over the next six weeks. But with so many individuals at Punt Road proving they can bolt when the whips crack, only a fool, or a Carlton fan, would put a line through Mini McQualter's side at this stage.

Richmond will need to be near faultless along the season's final furlong, but as shown for much of the last decade, they are a runner primed to do their best work in spring.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Jacob Hopper of the Tigers is congratulated by team mates after kicking a goal during the round six AFL match between Melbourne Demons and Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on April 24, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Francis Seal: GWS

The Giants have snuck up the ladder with five wins in a row now, and having just knocked off the Crows at the Adelaide Oval, they may be a bigger threat than anyone projected. The return of Sam Taylor has proved pivotal to their team dynamic as he strengthens his case as the league's premier key defender. With he and Toby Greene as the pillars on either side of the field, all they need is an elite midfield to match it with the best, and that's exactly what they have with Tom Green, Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio.

They are well-drilled by Adam Kingsley and company, they are matched by few other teams in terms of talent, and they have proven to be able to perform best when the pressure is highest. All of their remaining games are winnable, perhaps barring their clash with Port Adelaide away from home.

The matches to keep an eye on include Round 20 vs Bulldogs, Round 23 vs Essendon and Round 24 vs Carlton.