Andrew Voss predicts who will make the top eight, gives his views on the Sam Kasiano incident, asks what might have been for the Roosters, and provides some hope for Dragons fans.
Who makes the finals and who misses out?
I'm predicting the Gold Coast Titans are going to complete somewhat of a fairytale story and qualify this weekend for the finals by beating Penrith at CBus Super Stadium.
However, such is the positive points differential of the Panthers, defeat won't see them in any danger going into the final round as the Warriors and Tigers' for-and-against is so far inferior that they won't be able to make up the difference.
But the side that will continue to throw a spanner into the works will be the Roosters. I think they will beat Cronulla on Saturday night, and I fancy their chances in Round 26 against Brisbane.
Another defeat for the Sharks is likely to see them miss a top two spot. Meantime Thursday night's match is likely to have a massive impact on the finals schedule for week one.
If Canterbury can outlast the Cowboys there is a chance we could have matches played in Melbourne, Canberra, Townsville and Brisbane for the qualifying finals.
Should Sam Kasiano have been suspended?
It is rare that I sit on the fence on an issue, but my response on this one is yes, and no.
The incident in isolation definitely warranted a charge, and some game penalty.
However I still can't move on from the fact that South Sydney's Nathan Brown wasn't charged for his stomp on the Titans' Agnatius Paasi back in Round 13.
If that case was the benchmark, then Kasiano should have been in the clear too.
But then there is the matter of injury inflicted, as happened in last Thursday's incident to Corey Parker.
I have never been a fan on injury being taken into account. If you are finding Kasiano guilty of kicking out at an opponent, does it really matter where the blow landed?
And based on the events of the previous week in the Ryan James/James Tedesco case; injury in the end counted for absolutely nothing.
The crisis here, and it is a crisis as the finals approach, is that all our levels of match officiating seem to be operating off different rule books.
The referees and the bunker saw the James tackle different to the match review committee, with the judiciary panel then taking another point of view.
The Kasiano incident highlighted this once again, with the exception of it not being put to the judiciary test.
We need one set of rules in the NRL.
Should Canberra be able to host matches all through the finals?
My answer is yes. Week one, week two or week three if that's how the draw falls.
GIO Stadium surely ticks the boxes with only it's capacity being a drawback.
I thought last Sunday was one of the great days of rugby league this season. Take a bow Raiders fans for the "Viking clap" pre-match. The atmosphere generated provided for a thrilling match. The comeback from the Raiders was fantastic, but well done also to the Eels for the performance they again turned in despite being out of finals contention.
I just hope after last weekend that the Raiders get a chance for at least one more home game this season. The fact is, that may not be the case
However in regards finals football, I do take on board the words of Raiders great Laurie Daley. Laurie admitted on Fox Sports NRL 360 show last week that when he was playing, he really enjoyed the experience of coming to Sydney for the big end of season matches.
Can we hold off on voting for the coach of the year?
In 2016, I think we have to.
I rattled off a list of contenders last week putting Ricky Stuart on top in my humble opinion.
I reckon it's time the count for coach should be different to the players, and extended to include the finals matches right up to awards night in grand final week. Would it really be that hard to do a ring around of the judges on the morning of the awards?
I say that because we have some potentially incredible stories here as the playoffs approach. What if Neil Henry gets the Titans to the grand final? Or Anthony Griffin at the Panthers? If the Sharks recover from their current slump, wouldn't that put Shane Flanagan close to the top again?
I reckon it's worth some thought.
Could the Roosters have had an impact in the finals?
It's that time of year where plenty of sides will look back on ifs, and coulds, and maybes.
I have seen enough of the full strength Roosters to believe they would have been good enough to play finals football, however I don't believe they could have quite challenged for the title as in recent years.
The Roosters have their big three just as Melbourne has its trio of real stars. Between Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves they have had 33 matches played out of a possible 66 appearances combined this season.
And then there is the statistic of having suffered eight losses by four points or less which is the second most in premiership history.
These are numbers that must be taken into account for the Roosters season post mortem, if that provides some solace to their fans.
Is there any good news for Dragons fans?
Last Sunday was a dark day in the season of the Dragons, and straight away fans turned their thoughts towards the future.
Let me cheer up fans of the Red V with a name of a player for their little black book.
You won't see him progress into the grade ranks next year, and probably not even the season after that, but I would implore that the club make sure they have a young backrower by the name of Harris Georgopolous signed up long term.
I have been calling the schoolboy football for many years now and this 16-year-old looks an exceptional talent. You can make your own judgement when young Harris plays for De La Salle Cronulla in the GIO Trophy final this Saturday on Fox Sports at 8.00am.
I'm off to Melbourne on Friday night to call the Storm's blockbuster against Brisbane for Fox Sports, and will back up at Cronulla on Saturday night for the Sharks clash with the Roosters.
Have a great weekend of footy!