This leaves four teams battling it out to play in the decider. We look at their current power rankings prior to the preliminary finals.
1. Melbourne Storm (Last Week: 1)
The Storm sit, comfortably, as the most likely to advance to yet another grand final. They enjoyed a week off and will enter the preliminary stronger than they ran out against Manly.
They play the Panthers, in what many expected to be the grand final matchup, for a shot at retaining their 2020 crown.
The week off is so important at this time of the season, especially when three of your most potent attacking threats will be much stronger for the rest.
2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (2)
The Bunnies hard work against the Panthers earned them the luxury of a week off. This will, I believe, prove to be the deciding factor come Friday night.
Although there is no official home ground advantage, Souths will enjoy the majority of fan support at Suncorp Stadium.
Souths won their one and only clash over Manly this season, although this was all the way back in March.
Souths will contest their fourth straight preliminary final. This is their best chance of emerging victorious due to the week off and the rest it has granted.
3. Manly Sea Eagles (4)
Two weeks ago, when Manly were beaten off the park by the Storm, I completely wrote the Sea Eagles off. Most did.
Fast forward a week and they are, by far, the most likely to come out and cause a boil-over for the penultimate clashes.
Tom Trbojevic had a bounce-back game of epic proportions against the Roosters after a borderline shocker against the Storm.
The big three of the Sea Eagles have the talent, if on their game, to cause an upset. Any team boasting Tommy Turbo can achieve anything. The Sea Eagles are a real crack here despite having to go the long way about it.
4. Penrith Panthers (3)
Penrith's loss to the Bunnies two weeks ago may ultimately cost them their return to the grand final. They were forced into an 80 minute classic against the Eels.
The Panthers are one and one against Melbourne in 2021. The loss they did suffer to the Storm was a big one but they were missing their superstar halfback in Nathan Cleary.
This is the game we all expected would be a rematch from last season's decider. Instead, the Panthers face a huge task in defeating a well-rested Storm.
Penrith start the weekend as the longest shot to qualify for a second straight grand final but they have the talent, game and win over the Storm earlier in the season.
Rugby League Outlaws preview the Prelims and talk the Tigers mess
Eliminated: Final rankings
5. Parramatta Eels (6)
The Eels may have exited the competition but their fans can be extremely proud. On the night they probably outplayed Penrith.
They had their chances and I genuinely believe that had Reed Mahoney been fit to play that the Eels would be lining up in the prelim this weekend.
Mitchell Moses proved that he is a big game player. The knock on him to date has been his inability to really star in the biggest games.
It will be a big off-season for the Eels. They have a very similar squad heading into next season there is no reason they shouldn't be a contender yet again.
6. Sydney Roosters (5)
The Roosters largely limped to a disappointing end to their 2021 season. Given the ridiculous amount of injuries they've suffered though, I'd be very proud if I were wearing the tri-colours.
The 42-6 loss to Manly is a result they didn't deserve but truthfully they were never in the hunt this past Friday night.
Overall the 2021 season should be remembered in a positive light for the Roosters. Plenty of young players stepped up when called upon and their 2022 is very bright.