17 Down, 8 To Go: Your Team's Chances Of Winning The NRL Premiership

State of Origin is over for 2021 so the focus of the rugby league world returns to the NRL. Most notably, on which teams are building themselves into a premiership push, and those that are fighting for the chance to extend their season by securing a Top 8 spot.

The top four teams remain relatively unchanged as the Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs and Eels continue to top the NRL ladder. However, the race for 7th and 8th changes shape every week as the Warriors and Cowboys stumble to allow the Sharks and Knights to make their move.

With so much already set in stone, but with plenty more still to play for, let's take a look at the Stats Insider futures model and assess where all 16 teams stand in the race for the premiership, Top 4, Top 8 and wooden spoon.

RELATED: Check out Jason's NRL Coach Of The Year Rankings 

BRISBANE BRONCOS

Premiership: 0.0%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 0.5%
Most Losses: 9.1%

The Brisbane Broncos played out their best game of the season in Round 16 to beat the Sharks 26-18. The two competition points put some distance between themselves and the Bulldogs at 16th and has dropped the likelihood that they end the season holding the wooden spoon to just 9.1% - down from 28% a month ago.

Kevin Walters is ever so slowly figuring out his best 17. It has finally clicked that the speed and mobility in the middle of Ethan Bullemor and Kobe Hetherington is how they can keep up with the faster teams in the NRL.

The halves remain an issue. Tyson Gamble and Albert Kelly are serviceable, but they need a lot to break right in front of them to be effective. Meanwhile, Brodie Croft is still floating in and out of the side without securing a jumper. 

Remarkably, the Broncos are only two wins out of 10th spot and can make some decent jumps up the ladder if they build on their Round 16 performance. 

RELATED: Why Brisbane's Year From Hell Mightn't Be Permanent

Canberra Raiders

Premiership: 0.2%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 24.1%
Most Losses: 0.4%

It has gone from bad to worse for the Canberra Raiders over the last two months. 

At 54.8% to make the Top 8 after Round 9, that number dropped to 44.7% after Round 14. Three rounds later and the Green Machine's finals push is running out of gas at just 24.1%.

But, they are starting to look better...

Josh Hodgson has regained control of the side in the wake of George Williams' departure and Jack Wighton's questionable form. The #9 is making the decisions from dummy half and moving the Raiders around the field a lot better than they were earlier in the season. While the attack in good ball isn't producing points on a regular enough basis, the Raiders are earning 28.8 tackles inside the opposition 20-metre line per game (5th-most in the NRL). 

But, they face a tough run home...

The Raiders need to navigate the third-hardest remaining schedule in the NRL which involves the Eels, Storm, Sea Eagles and Roosters. 

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Premiership: 0.0%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 0.0%
Most Losses: 86.1%

"Their attack is the worst in the NRL. Remarkably, as the points pile up in the NRL and scoring trends upward, the Bulldogs are only scoring 11.8 points per game after managing 14.1 per game in 2020.

Two things contribute to Canterbury's lack of scoring more than anything else, and both are linked together: Yardage and ball-playing." - When Will Canterbury's Dog Days Finally Be Over?

In a game that is dominated by building pressure and piling up points, the Bulldogs are scoring a measly 11.8 points per game. Their one-dimensional approach with the ball is easy to defend. In turn, it's only ever a matter of time before the opposition takes control of the game and runs away with it. 

Most teams have slowly adjusted to how the game is being played in 2021. Not the Bulldogs. As a result, they've all but locked up the wooden spoon at 86.1% through 17 rounds.

RELATED: When Will Canterbury's Dog Days Finally Be Over?

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

Premiership: 0.3%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 45.1%
Most Losses: 1.1%

Shaun Johnson and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are closing in on finals footy.

At 33.3% to crack the Top 8 three rounds ago, they're now 8th on the ladder and at 45.1% to be there at the end of Round 25. 

They're far from a perfect football side. The same issues in middle defence that plagued the Sharks through 2019 and 2020 still linger. However, the development of Will Kennedy, Johnson's move to #7 and the consistency at which Matt Moylan and Braydon Trindall are occupying the #6 jersey see the Sharks beat the bad teams more often than not.

With one of the easier remaining schedules through to the end of the season, the Sharks are in a good position to extend their season into September.

Gold Coast Titans

Premiership: 0.2%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 27.4%
Most Losses: 0.1%

The Gold Coast Titans were thumped by the Sea Eagles 56-24 in Round 15. A week later, they hung 44 points on the Raiders to provide their faithful fans with a glimmer of hope for finals football.

The Stats Insider Futures Model has responded by bumping the Gold Coast's chance of reaching the Top 8 from 18.5% to 27.4%.

Justin Holbrook is struggling to have this team play to their potential every week. The attack becomes too heavily dependent on David Fifita when the points don't come early. Meanwhile, once points start coming through their defence, they don't stop pouring through until the final siren. No team in the NRL is worse at arresting a slide and clawing their way back into a game right now than the Titans.

Still, a bad team will play finals football this year and that can be the Titans if they can find some consistency and beat the teams they should from here: Dragons in Round 19, Bulldogs in Round 20, Cowboys in Round 21 and Warriors in Round 25.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Premiership: 4.2%
Top 4: 7.8%
Top 8: 97.9%
Most Losses: 0.0%

We already knew the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles rely heavily on Tom Trbojevic. He's arguably the best player in rugby league right now, and without him, this group produced the worst start to a season in both attack and defence in the club's history. 

Beating the Bulldogs 66-0 does nothing for the form guide. However, losing 30-16 to the Raiders in a clunky 80 minutes doubled down on Manly's reliance on their fullback with Trbojevic watching the defeat from Blues camp.

The Sea Eagles are slowly climbing up into premiership relevance. Their 3.2% a month ago is now up to 4.2%. Should they cause an upset and end up in the Grand Final, nobody can rule them out of lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy if Trbojevic is healthy.

If he falls over before September, Manly will become another team making up the numbers in finals footy.

Melbourne Storm

Premiership: 32.8%
Top 4: 99.9%
Top 8: 100.0%
Most Losses: 0.0%

Finding new ways and words to highlight just how good the Melbourne Storm are in 2021 is a difficult task. 

Their winning streak is out to 13 games; four of which Melbourne scored 40+ points. They're on track to be one of the best attacking teams in NRL history all while Ryan Papenhuyzen and Harry Grant spend a significant number of games sitting in the stands.

Now favourites to become premiers at 32.8%, Craig Bellamy is setting the table to leave the club a winner.

RELATED: It's Melbourne and Penrith's World And We're Just Living In It

Newcastle Knights

Premiership: 0.4%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 49.2%
Most Losses: 1.1%

The Newcastle Knights have quietly risen to 9th on the NRL ladder, and of the five teams fighting for two spots in the Top 8, they are the favourites at 49.2%.

A tough draw and injuries made things difficult to start the season. However, with Mitchell Pearce, Tyson Frizell and Kalyn Ponga healthy ahead of the second-easiest remaining draw through to Round 25, the Knights are on the up.

Back-to-back wins before the bye has set them up nicely ahead of a clash with the Storm in Round 18. While an unexpected victory would do wonders for their confidence and positioning in the Top 8, the Knights will play just two more finals-bound teams across the rest of the season so a loss won't hurt them.

Adam O'Brien has faced criticism at times this season. It will all be forgotten if he can navigate the next eight games in the way he should with this squad.

North Queensland Cowboys

Premiership: 0.0%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 8.2%
Most Losses: 0.5%

Somebody get into the scalp-specific sun care business in North Queensland because Cowboys fans won't have any hair by the time this NRL season ends.

On the up and at 34.8% to play finals football after Round 14, three consecutive losses have dropped the Cowboys chances to just 8.2%.

Round 15 produced yet another example of how this team can't manage to string two good halves of footy together.

A 38-0 thrashing at the hands of the Knights in Round 16 really started to ram home that fact that this team simply isn't good enough.

A fast start against the Rabbitohs in Round 17 and a glimpse of Jason Taumalolo at his barn-storming best provided 25 minutes of hope. It only took the Bunnies 10 minutes to kill it and hand the Cowboys a fourth consecutive defeat.

The Cowboys are still only one win out of 8th on the NRL ladder but seem destined to tease the idea of finals footy through to Round 25 before falling just short.

Parramatta Eels

Premiership: 12.5%
Top 4: 79.6%
Top 8: 100.0%
Most Losses: 0.0%

The Parramatta Eels worked their way through the State of Origin period well and fell just short of winning right the way through when losing to the Panthers 13-12 in Round 16. Still, the blue and gold have kept within touching distance of the top teams and have Reed Mahoney returning for Round 18.

Questions still remain over how well the Eels key playmakers can produce against the top tier teams. While they beat what was a very different Storm side back in Round 2, Parramatta have lost to Manly, South Sydney and Penrith - two of those by double-digits.

We will know a lot more about this team in two months' time, though. With the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Storm and Panthers still to come, the Eels face the toughest run home of all 16 teams.

Penrith Panthers

Premiership: 26.7%
Top 4: 99.8%
Top 8: 100.0%
Most Losses: 0.0%

The Penrith Panthers have been thrown a curveball with injuries to Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai. While they've been forced to deal with a handful of injuries over the last 18 months, this period - without their two superstar halves - is where we will learn the most about the supporting cast.

How Tyrone May and Matt Burton link up and generate points over the next fortnight could be a crucial aspect to Penrith's run through the finals if they're presented with the worst-case scenario.

Still, with the best defence in the NRL conceding just 9.8 points per game, the Panthers don't need to pile up points to win while they wait for Cleary and Luai to return. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Premiership: 18.3%
Top 4: 98.3%
Top 8: 100.0%
Most Losses: 0.0%

The South Sydney Rabbitohs appear to be coming good when it matters.

They're entering the final eight rounds of the regular season scoring 43.3 points per game in their last three. Cody Walker is in superb form and the way he is getting across both sides of the field has added some variation to the Bunnies attack. Souths have scored 59% of their tries down the left edge; no team has scored more than 50% of their tries down either side of the field. However, putting on a hattrick for right-winger Taane Milne in Round 17 will have opposition defences squirming.

Defensively, Souths have only conceded more than 20 points once since the Panthers dropped 56 on them in Round 11.

At 18.3% to win the premiership, the Rabbitohs aren't quite up there with the Storm and Panthers. They are however inching closer.

St. George-Illawarra Dragons

Premiership: 0.2%
Top 4: 0.1%
Top 8: 39.5%
Most Losses: 1.0%

The St. George-Illawarra Dragons beat the Warriors 19-18 in Round 16 to keep their spot at 7th on the NRL ladder. In the end, the post-match celebrations 24 hours later may end up costing them that very finals spot.

With 13 players breaking health and safety protocols, their best prop having his contract torn up and 12 others to serve suspensions across the following 2-4 rounds, the Dragons will struggle to hold on. They've never looked like a finals side but have managed to do just enough to avoid dropping out. However, with their latest off-field issues likely to translate into poor on-field performances as well as the second-hardest remaining draw, it feels like a matter of time before the Red V's unlikely run to the finals comes to an end.

The Stats Insider Futures Model already has the Dragons on the outside of the Top 8 and looking in at just 39.5%.

Sydney Roosters

Premiership: 4.3%
Top 4: 14.4%
Top 8: 98.7%
Most Losses: 0.0%

The Sydney Roosters continue to do just enough to keep their place in the top five despite the injury issues they have faced for most of the season. Much of that comes down to the play of James Tedesco, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Victor Radley and Sam Walker.

It's the cohesion and smarts of the side that has allowed them to work through this injury-riddled period and remain relevant. It's a 19-year-old having the cleverness to run 70 metres back towards his own line to avoid handing the worst team in the competition even one chance of a hail mary play. 

We know this isn't a premiership contending team. The Roosters know they aren't a premiership contending team. Still, they're getting the most out of this season to ensure they're in the mix for 2022.

New Zealand Warriors

Premiership: 0.0%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 5.8%
Most Losses: 1.3%

You wouldn't know it based on the lack of scrutiny they're facing, but the New Zealand Warriors have lost seven of their last eight games. 

They were 8th on the ladder and at 38.1% to stay there after losing the first match of their eight-game horrorshow. Now, they're 13th and all but out of contention at 5.8%.

Injuries haven't helped. They've not been able to forge a reliable halves pairing with Chanel Harris-Tavita, Reece Walsh, Chad Townsend, Kodi Nikorima and Sean O'Sullivan all being given a crack at some point this season. 

However, the Warriors' lack of development in attack - in particular, how they use Roger Tuivasa-Sheck off the wing - highlights how little this team is improving. Despite the upgrades in the roster, they're performing worse with their current 5-11 record equal with the clubs worst ever season through 16 games.

A tough fortnight against the Panthers and Rabbitohs won't help Brown and the Warriors either.

Wests Tigers

Premiership: 0.0%
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 3.6%
Most Losses: 2.8%

Michael Maguire is still trying to nail down his first-choice 17.

Unsurprisingly, moving Adam Doueihi to the centres and Moses Mbye to the halves didn't work. That experiment has ended just in time for the Wests Tigers to embark on the easiest remaining draw of all 16 teams.

Maguire is rolling the dice on youth and enthusiasm to get his team back on track. Stefano Utoikamanu, Thomas Mikaele and Tukimihia Simpkins have been tasked with getting the Tigers up the field in Round 18 with Junior Pauga to make his NRL debut in the centres.

The tinkering has played a big part in the Tigers conceding 29.9 points per game this season. However, Maguire has been left with little choice but to swing the axe too often in 2021. If they can't show some signs of improvement over the last eight games, this playing group may lose Maguire his job.


Jason Oliver

As far as Jason is concerned, there is no better time of year than March through June. An overlap of the NBA and NRL seasons offer up daily opportunities to find an edge and fund the ever-increasing number of sports streaming services he subscribes to. If there's an underdog worth taking in either code, he'll be on it.

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