It seems impossible but reigning premiers Melbourne could miss the 2018 Telstra Premiership finals if they are caught up in a perfect storm of results going against them over the next three weeks.
Arch rivals the Rabbitohs and Roosters are the only two teams that are guaranteed of making the finals.
And Wests Tigers can make the eight, while Storm, Sharks, Warriors, Panthers, Broncos and Dragons are all capable of finishing ninth – and missing the play-offs.
Does that sound far-fetched, or even impossible?
Well, statisticians in the data division of NRL.com have come up with an algorithm that calculated the "best" and "worst" finishing positions of each of the 16 NRL clubs.
It is based on scenarios like winning every one of the last three rounds, losing all three, winning one or two, drawn games, large and small win-loss margins, differential points, and how they all play out with the clubs above and below your team on the NRL ladder.
So, for example, if Wests Tigers beat the Dragons, Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs by huge margins, while the Storm (who play the Eels, Titans, Panthers) or Panthers (Knights, Warriors, Storm) lost in big defeats, then the Tigers would be fourth and the Storm/Panthers ninth after Round 25.
"Highly unlikely", we hear the fans say, but it is mathematically possible based on the numbers being crunched through algorithms, for teams to suffer the fates detailed in the graph above.
Keeping in mind, there are over 16 million (16,777,216 to be exact) possible win-loss combinations over the last three rounds.
If you wanted to include teams finishing level after extra-time as a possible result, then there are 282,429,536,481 win-loss-draw combinations.
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