'Anything can and often does happen in this game': Opinion

I don't know about you, but since the State of Origin series I have had five teams I thought would win the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership.

I switched from Melbourne to the Roosters, then to the Sharks, jumped off them back onto the Roosters and now I am thinking maybe South Sydney can repeat their emotional 2014 victory over the Bulldogs.

To be honest, I have no idea.

It's been that kind of season.

A month out from the NRL finals, I find myself still tossing up between four or five teams to lift the Provan-Summons trophy above their heads on Sunday, September 30 at ANZ Stadium as the 2018 champions.

I have managed to whittle my list down to South Sydney, Melbourne, Roosters, Panthers and the Sharks, that's how open I think this finals series will be.

All year we have witnessed some big upsets, hotshots getting rolled coming off big wins the previous game.

Punters and tipsters have torn up the form guides and smashed crystal balls, replacing them with darts, tossing coins and pulling names from a hat.

Hopefully, these last few rounds will help answer some questions.

Mathematically, any of the teams positioned 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th could springboard into the top four should they go on a winning burst.

And given the unpredictability of results this season, it is quite possible a team from outside the top four could create history by winning the grand final.

No team has managed to win the premiership this century from outside the top 4.

Here is a quick look at how the top eight teams have been performing over the past month as an early guide to the finals.

Team / Premiership Pts / Avg For in Last Month / Avg Against in Last Month

RABBITOHS / 32pts /  25.5av / 13av
STORM / 30pts / 35av / 20.75av
ROOSTERS / 30pts / 34.5av / 18.5av
DRAGONS / 28pts / 19av / 31.5av
PANTHERS / 28pts / 29av / 20.75av
SHARKS / 26pts / 23.5av / 20.5av
BRONCOS / 26pts / 31av / 18av
WARRIORS / 26pts / 15av / 22.5av

RUN HOME:
Rabbitohs: Roosters (H), Broncos (A), Raiders (A) Panthers (H).
Storm: Sharks (H), Parramatta (H), Titans (A) Panthers (H).
Roosters: Rabbits (A), Raiders (H), Broncos (H), Parramatta (A).
Dragons: Parramatta (A), Wests Tigers (A), Canterbury (H) Newcastle (A)
Panthers: Titans (A), Knights (H), Warriors (A), Storm (A).
Sharks: Melbourne (A), North Queensland (H), Newcastle (H), Canterbury (A).
Broncos: North Queensland (A), South Sydney (H), Roosters (A), Manly (H).
Warriors: Newcastle (H), Canterbury (A), Penrith (H), Raiders (H).

Given defence wins finals, South Sydney are looking good at the moment conceding an average of 13 points a game.

Melbourne have won four of their last 5 games and are averaging enough points (35 per game) but their defence (20.7) is behind South Sydney, Roosters (18.5ppg) and Broncos (18ppg).

It's an interesting closing month ahead, with some huge games, starting with this weekend's blockbuster between potential grand final opponents South Sydney and the Roosters.

The stuttering Dragons appear to have the coziest run home, playing four games against teams below them on the ladder - Parramatta, West Tigers, Canterbury and Newcastle - but their form of late has been poor, scoring at an average of 19 points per game while conceding 31.5ppg.

Cronulla also have a good run into the finals, especially if they can upset Melbourne on the road at the weekend, not out of the question if Storm skipper Cameron Smith is ruled out with a foot injury.

The yo-yoing Broncos have the toughest run into the finals.

They play their great rivals North Queensland in Townsville at the weekend, a game which historically is won by a point or two, often in golden point, then meet heavyweights South Sydney, Roosters and finish against the unpredictable Manly Sea Eagles.

So, armed with all that statistical information, who wins the grand final?

I honestly don't know.

If I had to make my selection now, I would probably tip the Roosters.

But a week is a long time in rugby league and a month is an eternity.

Look at Penrith, two miracle comeback wins in the past fortnight and what happens? They sack their coach!!

Anything can and often does happen in this great game.

So like everyone, I will watch with great interest over the next month to see how teams are traveling heading into the finals and make a firmer prediction then.