AFL Grand Final. 2013. MCG. Hawthorn v Fremantle. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Reigning premier Hawthorn, runner-up Fremantle and Sydney are the only potential grand final opponents for an AFL team this season, according to a poll of the 18 club captains.
The release of their annual survey coincides with Wednesday night's AFL season launch in Adelaide.
The skippers were asked which other team will make the grand final – 10 went for the Hawks, five for Fremantle and three for Sydney.
AFL captains follow the Hollywood lead with a group selfie. Picture: Twitter
Predictably, those three clubs also received the maximum 17 votes when the captains were asked which other seven teams will make the top eight.
The popularity of those three teams reflects a widely-held belief that there will be a wide-open competition this season between fourth and 15th on the ladder.
Curiously, one skipper picked Geelong to not make the top eight and Collingwood only received 12 votes.
West Coast (11), North Melbourne and Richmond (nine apiece), Essendon and Port Adelaide (seven apiece) and Adelaide and Carlton (two apiece) were the other top-eight picks.
Gold Coast was not named, despite the Suns having reasonable claims to break into the finals for the first time.
New Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury was the most popular Brownlow Medal fancy, attracting votes from four of his counterparts.
Last year's winner Gary Ablett and Adelaide star Patrick Dangerfield polled three votes and 10 players in total were nominated.
No captain predicted Hawthorn's Jarryd Roughead would win the Coleman Medal last year – this time, four have nominated him.
Collingwood key forward Travis Cloke and West Coast's Josh Kennedy were the most popular picks with five apiece.
Nine captains correctly named Jaeger O'Meara last year as the Rising Star winner and this time seven have gone for his Gold Coast teammate Jack Martin.
Last year, when asked which teams would make the grand final, Hawthorn and West Coast won seven votes each, Collingwood, Fremantle, Geelong and Sydney just one.
THE AFL CAPTAINS GIVE THEIR 2014 PREDICTIONS
Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight? (18 times seven selections)
Fremantle (17), Hawthorn (17), Sydney (17), Geelong (16), Collingwood (12), West Coast (11), North Melbourne (9), Richmond (9), Essendon (7), Port Adelaide (7), Adelaide (2), Carlton (2)
Which other club is most likely to reach the grand final?
Hawthorn (10), Sydney (5), Fremantle (3)
Who do you think will win the 2014 Brownlow Medal?
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood, 4 votes), Gary Ablett (Gold Coast, 3), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide, 3), Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle, 2), Dustin Martin (Richmond, 1), Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn, 1), Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn, 1), Joel Selwood (Geelong, 1), Dane Swan (Collingwood, 1), Jobe Watson (Essendon, 1)
Who do you think will win the 2014 Coleman Medal?
Travis Cloke (Collingwood, 5 votes), Josh Kennedy (West Coast, 5), Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn, 4), Lance Franklin (Sydney, 3), Jack Riewoldt (Richmond, 1)
Who do you think will win the 2014 Rising Star?
Jack Martin (Gold Coast, 7 votes), James Aish (Brisbane Lions, 2), Jack Billings (St Kilda, 2), Joe Daniher (Essendon, 2), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs, 1), Harry Cunningham (Sydney, 1), Brodie Grundy (Collingwood, 1), Josh Kelly (Greater Western Sydney, 1), Luke McDonald (North Melbourne, 1)
Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight?
Sydney (17 votes), Collingwood (16), Hawthorn (16), West Coast (16), Fremantle (15), Geelong (15), Adelaide Crows (14) Carlton (11) Essendon (2), North Melbourne (2) and Richmond (2).
Who do you think will win the 2013 Brownlow Medal? (No captain correctly nominated Jobe Watson in 2012).
Trent Cotchin (6), Gary Ablett (3), Patrick Dangerfield (3), Josh Kennedy (2), Sam Mitchell, Scott Pendlebury, Joel Selwood, Dane Swan.
Who do you think will win the 2013 Coleman Medal? (Two captains correctly nominated Jack Riewoldt in 2012).
Lance Franklin (8), Taylor Walker (4), Jack Riewoldt (3), Tom Hawkins (2), Drew Petrie.
Who do you think will win the 2013 NAB AFL Rising Star? (No captain correctly nominated Daniel Talia in 2012)
Jaeger O'Meara (9), Lachie Whitfield (2), Ollie Wines (2), Brandon Hill, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Jono O'Rourke, Jake Stringer, Jack Viney.