AFL W2W4, Round 23: What exactly are the Bombers made of?

Round 23 starts with a bang on Friday night with a finals-like blockbuster between Collingwood and Essendon, while we have a possible Grand Final preview on Sunday. There's also a new caretaker in town and plenty of jostling for spots in the top eight. Here's What To Watch For.

Can the Bombers prove they're not just making up the numbers?

Sure, they're guaranteed to play finals regardless of the result, but there's a lot on the line for Essendon heading into Friday's crucial Round 23 clash with Collingwood at the MCG.

Bluntly, if they win, they more than likely face a struggling Giants outfit (at Giants Stadium) in the first week of the finals - a winnable game if ever we've seen one. Lose, however, and they could come up against one of Richmond, Collingwood (again) or West Coast depending on how the cards fall.

Essendon was embarrassed less than a fortnight ago when the Bulldogs managed to put 21 consecutive major past the Bombers' defence, but Saturday night's showing against the Dockers at Optus Stadium was much improved.

But standing in the way of the Bombers entering September with winning form is a Collingwood side which, despite some mid-season wobbles, has won its past three matches. The recent head-to-head between these teams is also skewed the Pies' way; they've won the last three clashes, though Essendon will take confidence from the Anzac Day loss from earlier in the year - it was just a four-point win to the Pies who were red-hot at the time.

So can the Bombers prove to the footy world they're not just making up the numbers come September? Or will the Pies show their fierce rivals what it takes to win at the pointy end of the season? After all, Collingwood can still lock up a top four berth if they win and the Lions beat the Tigers.

Tigers to show Lions who's boss at the 'G

Despite a nine game winning streak and the fact they hold top spot on the ladder with just one round to play, there are many football pundits who still aren't convinced Brisbane can go all the way in 2019.

Well, we may have busted that myth a few weeks back, but Sunday's game against Richmond at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be telling, and a win for the young Lions could finally see Chris Fagan's side installed as premiership favourites.

But it's certainly not going to be easy.

For years, playing Geelong at the Cattery or West Coast in Perth was viewed as the most daunting road trip in football, but the Tigers at the MCG is on a whole new level.

Since the beginning of 2017, Damien Hardwick's side is 37-5 at the home of football and with star player Dustin Martin beginning to hit top form, the stacked forward line clicking and finals just around the corner, 2019 has a distinct 2017 vibe about it.

Brisbane has the talent to match Richmond, but this is a test the club has not faced in decades.

It's pretty simple, whoever wins on Sunday afternoon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will head into September as premiership favourites.

How do the Dockers react after the Ross Lyon sacking?

There are so many questions still to be answered after Ross Lyon's departure from Fremantle but the most immediate one will be answered on Sunday when Freo sign off from their season with a road trip to Adelaide to take on the Power.

With David Hale to act as senior coach, will the dramatic changes spark an emotional win, as it has for the three other interim coaches this year after midseason changes at North Melbourne, Carlton and St Kilda?

Or, with only one game to go until the season's over for Fremantle, will the players just be looking forward to their summer break?

One thing's for sure, Port Adelaide will be very wary of this suddenly new-look Freo side.

Despite last weekend's insipid loss to North Melbourne, the Power can still make finals if they enjoy a commanding win against Port, and their cross-town rivals Adelaide find a way to beat the Bulldogs in Ballarat.

Seeing as this contest is the final game of the home-and-away season, the Power will know their fate - imagine if the Crows do surprise the Dogs and Port Adelaide players know exactly how much they need to win by to sneak into September? It will be must-watch television on multiple levels.