NRL.com's predicted 2017 rankings
It's an almost impossible task – predicting the entire finishing order of the 16 NRL clubs at the end of the Telstra Premiership regular season. But NRL.com's writers have gamely made their best guesses.
Read on for each writers' selection and see our combined finishing order at the end of the article.
Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent
Predicted finish: 1. Raiders, 2. Broncos, 3. Panthers, 4. Storm, 5. Cowboys, 6. Eels, 7. Roosters, 8. Titans, 9. Rabbitohs, 10. Sharks, 11. Warriors, 12. Wests Tigers, 13. Bulldogs, 14. Sea Eagles, 15. Knights, 16. Dragons.
"This gets tougher every year. I had my top eight sorted and then realised there were three more teams I had to squeeze in. No reason for the Raiders not to build on last year, the Broncos are strong across the park and the Storm simply never lose at home. I'm predicting a major premiership hangover for the Sharks, expect the spirit the Eels showed last year to carry forward and the Roosters to be the big improvers. I actually think the Tigers could have a really good year but inconsistency might cost them a finals berth and Souths could be top four if Inglis, Reynolds, Farah and Burgess all fire for 24 weeks. And the Knights won't come last."
Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent
1. Storm, 2. Raiders, 3. Roosters 4. Panthers, 5. Broncos, 6. Titans, 7. Eels 8. Cowboys 9. Rabbitohs 10. Sharks, 11. Warriors, 12 Wests Tigers. 13. Sea Eagles, 14. Bulldogs, 15. Dragons, 16. Knights.
"My days of underestimating Melbourne are over and I think they can finish top even if Billy Slater doesn't play. The Raiders and Panthers are on a steep upward curve while the Roosters are a serious title threat. The Eels will make their long-awaited finals return, the Cowboys will struggle after losing two props and the Sharks will drop right off the pace with the hooker role a key concern. The Titans are dark horses and Souths will probably make the eight but I couldn't find a spot for them. The Warriors will again vastly underachieve despite a stacked playmaking roster. Manly, Dogs, Dragons and Knights fans could be in for a long season."
Dominic Brock, Production Editor
1. Storm, 2. Cowboys, 3. Panthers, 4. Raiders, 5. Broncos, 6. Roosters, 7. Sharks, 8. Eels, 9. Bulldogs, 10. Rabbitohs, 11. Warriors, 12. Titans, 13. Wests Tigers, 14. Sea Eagles, 15. Dragons, 16. Knights.
"I've got usual suspects Melbourne, North Queensland and Brisbane in the top five along with 2016 breakout clubs Penrith and Canberra. The Roosters should be the big improvers and make the top eight comfortably. I also haven't quite written off the Bulldogs like everyone else – their playmakers must improve but they've still got a great pack and were a top-four team going into the final month of last season. They'll battle the Eels and Souths for the final spot in the eight, and the Warriors and the Titans could easily make the finals as well."
Andy Bryan, Deputy Editor
1. Storm, 2. Cowboys, 3. Raiders, 4. Roosters, 5. Broncos, 6. Panthers, 7. Sharks, 8. Eels, 9. Warriors, 10. Titans, 11. Rabbitohs, 12. Sea Eagles, 13. Bulldogs, 14. Wests Tigers, 15. Dragons, 16. Knights.
"There are two lessons I've learned time and time again in doing predictions before the start of every season: never write off the Storm and don't believe the Warriors' hype. The Roosters should be the biggest movers in 2017 after a disastrous campaign last year, while I think the Sharks will struggle in the back-half of the season without Michael Ennis and Ben Barba."
Adrian McMurray, Producer
1. Storm, 2. Panthers, 3. Raiders, 4. Cowboys, 5. Broncos, 6. Titans, 7. Rabbitohs, 8. Roosters, 9. Warriors, 10. Sharks, 11. Eels, 12. Sea Eagles. 13. Wests Tigers, 14. Bulldogs, 15. Knights, 16. Dragons.
"The Storm should again lead the way, while I think the Panthers and Raiders both have a real shot at the premiership. The Warriors and Eels are more than a chance of jumping into the eight, but I couldn't find a place for them with the Rabbitohs and Roosters rounding out the top half of the ladder. I'm tipping the Sharks to miss out on a finals spot and the Knights to just do enough to avoid a third consecutive wooden spoon."
Martin Gabor, National Correspondent
1. Storm 2. Panthers 3. Broncos 4. Raiders 5. Roosters 6. Cowboys 7. Sharks 8. Warriors 9. Eels 10. Rabbitohs 11. Titans 12. Bulldogs 13. Wests Tigers 14. Sea Eagles 15. Dragons 16. Knights.
"I apologise in advance because this was downright impossible. I'm fairly confident the Storm will stay on top, while Penrith's incredible depth will see them push for the minor premiership. The Broncos and Cowboys were a toss-up, as were the Warriors and Eels who are the biggest wildcards for me this year. The Roosters will be the big improvers while the Bulldogs could miss the finals for the first time in years. The Rabbitohs have the class and the Tigers have the flair to make the eight, and I would not be surprised in the slightest if they made me look silly come season's end."
Eden Richards, Queensland Correspondent
1. Storm, 2. Broncos, 3. Panthers, 4. Cowboys, 5. Titans, 6. Raiders, 7. Warriors, 8. Sharks, 9. Eels, 10. Roosters, 11. Tigers, 12. Rabbitohs, 13. Bulldogs, 14. Sea Eagles, 15. Dragons, 16. Knights.
"The Storm, Broncos and Cowboys will all be near the top come finals time. Penrith should improve on 2016, especially if they can avoid the injuries which have plagued them in recent years. I think with a tougher draw the Raiders might struggle to emulate their rapid rise while the Titans have a very strong squad. If the Warriors don't make the eight this year with the likes of Johnson, Foran, Tuivasa-Sheck and Luke then they never will. The Sharks will struggle without Ennis and Barba, but they should just pip the Eels and Roosters for a finals berth. Unfortunately for Newcastle, a second wooden spoon in as many years seems likely."
Corey Rosser, New Zealand Correspondent
1. Storm, 2. Raiders, 3. Panthers, 4. Cowboys, 5. Sharks, 6. Broncos, 7. Roosters, 8. Warriors, 9. Titans, 10. Eels, 11. Rabbitohs, 12. Sea Eagles, 13. Tigers, 14. Bulldogs, 15. Dragons, 16. Knights.
"Whenever I think the Storm are set for a decline they prove me wrong by finishing in the top quarter of the competition. That won't happen this year as I'm picking them to collect the minor premiership, followed closely by the Raiders and Panthers who both showed enough last year to convince me of their credentials. The last two finals spots go to the Roosters, who have recruited well and have some excellent young talent, and the Warriors who go from pretenders to contenders with Kieran Foran set to play. At the bottom I see more pain coming Newcastle's way."
Alicia Newton, National Correspondent
1. Storm 2. Broncos 3. Raiders 4. Cowboys 5. Sharks 6. Titans 7. Panthers 8. Rabbitohs 9. Roosters 10. Warriors 11. Wests Tigers 12. Eels 13. Bulldogs 14. Sea Eagles 15. Knights 16. Dragons.
"I am already cringing at the thought of looking back on this once the season is done and dusted. I think Melbourne can go one better and win the grand final with Cameron Munster adding that extra piece of X-factor at five-eighth with Billy Slater returning from injury. Take note Canberra fans, with the last three premiers finishing in third after 26 rounds – they're my second choice. I think the Rabbitohs will scrape back into the top eight after missing out last season and it will be third time lucky for the Knights, who will avoid the spoon for the first time since 2015 – you heard it here first."
Dylan Morris, Queensland Correspondent
1. Storm, 2. Raiders, 3. Cowboys, 4. Panthers. 5. Broncos, 6. Titans, 7. Eels, 8. Sharks, 9. Warriors, 10. Tigers, 11. Roosters, 12. Bulldogs, 13. Rabbitohs, 14. Dragons, 15. Knights, 16. Sea Eagles.
"The Storm, Raiders and Cowboys were a class above the rest last year, and new signings at the Panthers should give their premiership aspirations a boost. If there's going to be a gap anywhere in the competition after Round 26 it will be between the top four and all the rest. The Warriors, Tigers, Roosters, Bulldogs and even the Rabbitohs could finish as high a fifth depending on if their big-name players fire, but won't be able to compete with the best. The likes of Jarryd Hayne at the Titans and Anthony Milford at the Broncos should see them make the top eight. The Knights and Manly will both struggle to avoid the spoon."
Joel Moss, Melbourne Corresponent
1. Storm, 2. Raiders, 3. Panthers 4. Broncos, 5. Sharks, 6. Cowboys, 7. Roosters 8. Titans 9. Warriors 10. Eels, 11. Rabbitohs, 12 Bulldogs. 13. Sea Eagles, 14. Tigers, 15. Knights, 16. Dragons.
"You can't go past the Storm who have the most solid systems in place in the NRL. They've also developed their youngsters well. The Raiders and Panthers will also fight for the minor premiership. The remaining top-four spot will come down to the Sharks, Broncos and Cowboys and who will handle the Origin period best. I've learnt my lesson to never tip the inconsistent Warriors and my instincts are they're still a work in progress. The Eels and Bulldogs will also push for finals but will struggle with consistency against stronger teams."
NRL.com's combined predicted ladder
12. Wests Tigers
14. Sea Eagles