Some of the matchups this weekend will have major repercussions for the shape of the top eight, as Carlton looks to break a five-game losing streak against Essendon on Sunday night. Essendon are currently sitting in sixth spot, but if they lose to Carlton, they may find themselves sitting outside the eight depending on which way some results go this weekend. The clash is also the debut of the 'King's Birthday Eve' clash, as the traditional rivals prepare to fixture in a new annual blockbuster.
Of course, the main event this weekend is the King's Birthday Clash on Monday, as Neale Daniher returns with Big Freeze 9 at the MCG. Almost $70 million has been raised so far for MND research, and no doubt many more donations will be made by the final siren on Monday. The match between Collingwood and Melbourne looms as an early finals preview, and it marks Collingwood's first time playing a team currently in the top eight since Anzac Day.
There will also be some added heat to the clash, as Brodie Grundy plays his old side Collingwood for the first time, whilst there's no doubt Collingwood players will remind Ed Langdon of his infamous "all duck no dinner" comments from last year.
It promises to be an exciting round of footy, and these are the five players we've chosen to focus on for the weekend.
Buddy is preparing to play his 350th game at the SCG against St Kilda on Thursday as we get the chance to celebrate one of the all-time greats of the game. Buddy is currently the oldest player in the AFL and this will likely be his last milestone celebration, after last year's celebration where he became the sixth VFL/AFL player to kick 1,000 goals.
Whilst the scenes tonight won't be quite as dramatic as they were when thousands of fans stormed the SCG to celebrate the 1000-goal milestone, there's no doubt Buddy will still be appropriately celebrated.
Achievements in Buddy's career include two premierships, four Coleman Medals, eight All-Australian blazers and the title as the most recent and potentially last player to have kicked 100 goals in a season. Against the Saints, he also has the chance to move into fourth spot in the VFL/AFL all-time goalkickers list. Whilst it isn't an easy match-up against the Saints, the Swans will be putting in a strong showing to get the win for Buddy.
The King's Birthday match is one of the most highly anticipated fixtures for the season, made even bigger by Brodie Grundy coming up against his old side, Collingwood, for the first time since he was traded to Melbourne.
Captain Max Gawn said Grundy has requested to take the first centre bounce on Monday, looking to 'prove a point' against his former side, after he was effectively 'shown the door' with five years still to run on his contract.
Grundy had a slower start to the season, however, after Gawn went down with injury, Grundy picked up some consistent form as the sole ruckman. It'll be an exciting matchup as the Grundy-Gawn duo take on Collingwood's Cameron-Cox duo, with both ruck pairs in hot form at the moment after Melbourne beat Carlton last weekend.
Carlton will be hoping to break their five-game losing streak against Essendon on Sunday night and turn their season around, and Charlie Curnow is a vital cog in making that happen.
Whilst Curnow is equal first on the Coleman Medal leaderboard with 38 goals, his scoring accuracy the last two weeks would be sounding a few alarm bells, kicking 1.3 against Sydney and the singular goal against Melbourne last weekend, having had 66 shots on goal for the year.
Carlton gave up a six-goal lead against Sydney, kicking only 6.15. Harry McKay responded to his critics last week, kicking 3.2, but Curnow must do the same this weekend to beat traditional rival Essendon.
Curnow's kicking has cost him before, kicking 2.5 against Collingwood in Round 23, and with Sunday night's blockbuster set to be a close game, hopefully he can fire in front of goals this weekend.
Taylor Walker, or 'Tex' as most know him, is another one with a milestone this weekend as he plays his 250th game against West Coast on Saturday afternoon. Walker becomes just the ninth Adelaide player to reach the 250-game milestone and is the club's leading goalkicker with 565 goals across his career.
Walker was Adelaide's leading goalkicker for a record sixth time last year, continuing to string together strong form even after stepping down as captain at the end of 2019.
The Crows have only won away from home once in five interstate appearances this year, including a loss against Gold Coast at TIO Stadium last weekend. Whilst they're playing at home this weekend, they'll be looking to have a dominant victory over West Coast this weekend as they head into the bye, particularly with a tough matchup against Collingwood at the MCG coming up.
Tex had a quiet day the last time these clubs played back in Round 21, 2022 with five disposals and a goal, but will no doubt be hoping to put on a big performance for a big occasion.
The Bulldogs kicked 15 behinds last weekend, ultimately costing themselves the game against Geelong and finding themselves up against a tough opponent in Port Adelaide this weekend, a game they must win to ensure they avoid a three-game losing streak.
Naughton has kicked 22.18 for the season and has had 43 shots on goal this year, converting at only 51.2 per cent when he is in front of goal. Whilst Naughton has had some extremely strong games in front of goals this year, kicking 3.0 against Richmond, he has also had some weaker ones, kicking 1.3 against Carlton.
The Bulldogs rank in the bottom five for average goals per game, whilst Port Adelaide sit in the top five for average goals per game. If the Bulldogs are to win this weekend, they'll need to correct their accuracy in front of goals, and given Naughton is such a pivotal part of their forward line, he'll need to have his kicking boots on.
Last time Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs played each other in Gather Round, Naughton was quiet with only one shot on goal for the game.