Collingwood and Port Adelaide are in massive trouble after upset losses on Sunday meant they have won just once in the last five weeks.
Upset losses have plunged Port Adelaide and Collingwood deeper into crisis, only five weeks after their AFL seasons seemed so full of promise.
After round 12, Port were two games clear on top of the ladder and Collingwood were fourth.
But since then they have lost four out of their five games.
The Magpies were a rabble on Sunday at the MCG as Essendon took them apart and scored a 64-point win.
The 16.7 (103) to 5.9 (39) win put the Bombers in the top eight for the first time since round four.
They are seventh, one spot above Collingwood.
Earlier in the day at Etihad Stadium, Richmond took their first big scalp in a disappointing season when they held off the Power to win by 20 points.
The 19.12 (126) to 16.10 (106) result meant Port dropped out of the top four, with Geelong taking their place.
Also on Sunday, Fremantle took second place from Hawthorn on percentage with a 21.10 (136) to 9.6 (60) pummelling of Greater Western Sydney in Perth.
Asked where Collingwood lost the game, angry coach Nathan Buckley said “everywhere”.
It rivalled the 70-point loss to Fremantle in round one as the Magpies’ worst performance of the season.
The most damning feature of the game is that Essendon, who started underdogs, simply outworked them.
Maligned Bombers key position player Jake Carlisle had his best game of the season, taking 19 marks and kicking four goals.
“We couldn’t get enough blokes behind the ball to defend when they went forward – we couldn’t get enough blokes in front of the ball when we had it,” he said.
“So we were outworked, outhustled through the contest.
“We were particularly disappointed with our inability to match contested ball.”
And when Collingwood managed to win possession, they often butchered the ball.
Buckley said that had been a problem over the last few weeks.
“That’s like water dripping on a stone – it gets you,” Buckley said.
By contrast, the sky is the limit for the Bombers.
Asked what his team might be capable of this season, coach Mark Thompson said “who knows?”.
Gold Coast were the other big losers this weekend, dropping out of the top eight for the first time since round five.
Their surprise 28-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in Cairns raises the obvious speculation of “no Gaz, no Gold Coast”.
Captain Gary Ablett had a shoulder reconstruction last week, ending his season.
Hawthorn started the round on Friday night with an outstanding two-goal win in Adelaide against the Crows.
Next up for the Hawks is an enthralling clash on July 26 in the split round against top side Sydney.
The Swans equalled the club’s winning streak record of 12 on Saturday night when they belted Carlton at the SCG by 71 points.
North Melbourne improved by one place to sixth thanks to a 59-point win in Hobart over St Kilda, while West Coast beat Brisbane by 12 points at the Gabba and Geelong belted Melbourne by 66 points at the MCG.