And then there were ten.

The Parramatta Eels and Manly Sea Eagles became the latest casualties in the mathematical race to play finals rugby league over the weekend, with the Sydney Roosters keeping a flickering hope alive.

The top two are also now locked in, although the order remains to be seen, while the New Zealand Warriors took a big step towards locking up a double chance.

The Melbourne Storm are locked into the finals, and the Cronulla Sharks would need the world's worst nightmare to occur (to the tune of multiple large for-and-against turnarounds) to miss out.

The Canberra Raiders, Newcastle Knights, South Sydney Rabbitohs, North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters are still in the race for what are realistically three remaining finals spots.

At the other end of the table, the Wests Tigers have kept a flickering hope alive that they could avoid the wooden spoon.

Here is every team's current status with two weeks to go on the run home.

For the purposes of this, we are using a maximum for-and-against turnaround of 70 points across the two remaining weeks (or 35 points per round in the case where a team has a bye) as what will be considered realistic.

1. Penrith Panthers

Current position: 1st, 40 points (17 wins), + 315
Remaining games: Parramatta Eels (home), North Queensland Cowboys (away)

The Panthers can't lose their home qualifying final, and coach Ivan Cleary started the process of resting players over the most recent weekend.

Whether Penrith wins both of their remaining games may ultimately wind up being irrelevant to the end finals outcome this season, but given Brisbane have to try and knock over Melbourne, and Penrith's system is unbelievably strong, they should cling onto top spot.

Best possible finish: 1st
Worst possible finish: 2nd
Likely finish: 1st

2. Brisbane Broncos

Current position: 2nd, 40 points (17 wins), + 213
Remaining games: Canberra Raiders (away), Melbourne Storm (home)

The Broncos come off their bye without any advantage over the Panthers to show for it, and will now need to win both of their games and hope the Panthers slip up to claim the minor premiership.

With a home qualifying final booked in - unless they lose both, the Warriors win both and there is a for-and-against turnaround of 77 points - Kevin Walters may well elect to rest players.

Best possible finish: 1st
Worst possible finish: 2nd
Likely finish: 2nd

3. New Zealand Warriors

Current position: 3rd, 36 points (15 wins), + 136
Remaining games: St George Illawarra Dragons (home), The Dolphins (away)

The Warriors can still fall as far as fifth, but they would need to lose both of their remaining games and have the Storm win at least one, and the Sharks win both.

That appears fairly unlikely to happen, although the Warriors can't go any higher on the table without a miracle, so realistically all they have to play for is form heading into the finals.

Best possible finish: 3rd
Worst possible finish: 5th
Likely finish: 3rd

4. Melbourne Storm

Current position: 4th, 34 points (14 wins), + 137
Remaining games: Gold Coast Titans (home), Brisbane Broncos (away)

The Storm could still need to win both of their remaining games to lock themselves into the top four. Pending the performances of the Warriors, that could also end up with them sitting third after 27 rounds.

If they lose both, then all it would take is for the Sharks to win one of their remaining two to likely jump them on for-and-against for fourth spot. The Raiders winning both games could also see them go ahead, as could the Knights with two wins.

Best possible finish: 3rd
Worst possible finish: 7th
Likely finish: 4th

5. Cronulla Sharks

Current position: 5th, 32 points (13 wins), + 130
Remaining games: Newcastle Knights (away), Canberra Raiders (home)

The Sharks can still sneak into the top four, but they'd need to win both of their remaining games and have the Storm drop at least one, or the Warriors drop both.

In terms of going out in reverse, the Sharks realistically aren't missing the top eight anymore - for the Cowboys or Roosters to overtake them, it would require a for-and-against turnaround the likes of which we have never seen before.

They can still fall to eighth though with two bad losses - given they play the Raiders and Knights, those two sides would immediately jump them, while a for-and-against turnaround with the Rabbitohs (who would need to beat the Roosters), means they'd fall to eighth.

We have the Sharks winning against the Raiders and securing sixth spot.

Best possible finish: 3rd
Worst possible finish: 8th
Likely finish: 6th

6. Canberra Raiders

Current position: 6th, 32 points (13 wins), - 108
Remaining games: Brisbane Broncos (home), Cronulla Sharks (away)

The Raiders' for-and-against counts heavily against them, and as a result, they can still tumble down the table to ninth spot.

To miss the finals, they would need the Knights to win one, the Cowboys to win both, and either the Rabbitohs to beat the Roosters after their bye, or the Roosters to beat both the Tigers and Rabbitohs. It's not out of the realms of possibility, because we haven't got the Raiders winning another.

It could all come down to how many players the Panthers rest against the Cowboys in Round 27.

Best possible finish: 4th
Worst possible finish: 9th
Likely finish: 8th

7. Newcastle Knights

Current position: 7th, 31 points (12 wins, 1 draw), + 129
Remaining games: Cronulla Sharks (home), St George Illawarra Dragons (away)

The Knights have been red-hot in recent times and face something of another litmus test this weekend against the Sharks.

We have them holding up their end of the bargain though, beating the Dragons in the last round and sneaking up to fifth. Even with a single win though they could host an elimination final.

The Knights can still miss the eight though, and their draw means it's not a for-and-against question. If the Rabbitohs win against the Roosters, or if the Roosters win both, and the Cowboys win both of their games with the Knights not winning another, they are out.

A single win is enough for Newcastle to confirm their spot in the top eight.

Best possible finish: 4th
Worst possible finish: 9th
Likely finish: 5th

NRL Rd 7 - Knights v Panthers

8. South Sydney Rabbitohs

Current position: 8th, 28 points (12 wins), + 73
Remaining games: Bye, Sydney Roosters (home)

The Rabbitohs have a bye, and they definitely need it after the weekend's horror show against the Knights.

They can still get up to sixth place if they beat the Roosters in Round 27, and if the Knights and Raiders don't win another game. They can still miss the eight though if the Cowboys or Roosters win both.

We have that Roosters and Rabbitohs game being a straight shootout for seventh spot, and with Latrell Mitchell to miss through suspension, it might be a bridge too far.

Best possible finish: 6th
Worst possible finish: 10th
Likely finish: 9th

9. North Queensland Cowboys

Current position: 9th, 28 points (11 wins), + 12
Remaining games: The Dolphins (home), Penrith Panthers (away)

The Cowboys must win both games to play finals football - it's really as simple as that. If they do, then they could leap over the Rabbitohs (who would need to lose to the Roosters), the Knights (who would need to lose both games), or the Raiders (who would also need to lose both games).

They can drop to 12th if things go pear-shaped.

Best possible finish: 6th
Worst possible finish: 12th
Likely finish: 10th

10. Sydney Roosters

Current position: 10th, 28 points (11 wins), - 62
Remaining games: Wests Tigers (home), South Sydney Rabbitohs (away)

Provided the Roosters beat the Tigers this weekend - and they will want to by a big margin to try and catch the Cowboys on for-and-against - they are in with a show at making the finals.

Beating the Rabbitohs means they finish ahead of them, but they will likely still be behind the Cowboys on for-and-against. It means they will need the Cowboys to lose at least one of two, or the Knights or Raiders to drop both of their remaining games to make the top eight.

We have the Cowboys losing to the Panthers and the Raiders losing both though, so if they beat the Rabbitohs, they might just be a lock.

Best possible finish: 6th
Worst possible finish: 12th
Likely finish: 7th

11. Parramatta Eels

Current position: 11th, 26 points (11 wins), - 1
Remaining games: Penrith Panthers (away), bye

The Parramatta Eels have two more guaranteed points through a bye in Round 27, and the tough task of playing the Panthers before that.

Last year's grand finalists are now out of finals contention though unless the Roosters lose to the Tigers, the Rabbitohs lose to the Roosters, and the Cowboys lose at least one of their games, with the Eels themselves then likely needing to beat the Panthers by approximately 70 points.

In short, it's not happening. They can still drop below Manly on the final ladder but will avoid the bottom four.

Best possible finish: 9th
Worst possible finish: 12th
Likely finish: 12th

12. Manly Sea Eagles

Current position: 12th, 25 points (9 wins, 1 draw), - 54
Remaining games: Canterbury Bulldogs (away), Wests Tigers (home)

The Sea Eagles, like the Eels, can still finish ninth, but are otherwise out of finals contention. We have them winning both of their remaining games and getting to 29 points, which will see them jump Parramatta.

They can still be caught by the Titans and Dolphins though so could drop into the bottom four.

Best possible finish: 9th
Worst possible finish: 14th
Likely finish: 11th

13. Gold Coast Titans

Current position: 13th, 22 points (8 wins)
Remaining games: Melbourne Storm (away), Canterbury Bulldogs (home)

The Titans, if they were to beat both the Storm and Bulldogs could still jump the Sea Eagles. That would require Manly to lose both of their remaining games though.

It's likely they will avoid a bottom-four finish though with a win over the Bulldogs and a tough run home for their Queensland rivals the Dolphins.

Best possible finish: 12th
Worst possible finish: 15th
Likely finish: 13th

14. The Dolphins

Current position: 14th, 22 points (8 wins), - 111
Remaining games: North Queensland Cowboys (away), New Zealand Warriors (home)

The Dolphins find themselves with a tough run to the finish line and a bottom-four finish all but secured as a result in their inaugural season.

Some pundits will no doubt feel validated in their pre-season predictions as a result, but Wayne Bennett's side has been better than the ladder suggests with depth a major issue.

Best possible finish: 12th
Worst possible finish: 15th
Likely finish: 14th

15. Canterbury Bulldogs

Current position: 15th, 20 points (7 wins), - 309
Remaining games: Manly Sea Eagles (home), Gold Coast Titans (away)

The Bulldogs have officially avoided the spoon, and while they probably won't win another game this year, it's fair to say it has been about as disappointing of a season as any of the dark days at Canterbury.

Lots of work to do for the club in 2024.

Best possible finish: 13th
Worst possible finish: 16th
Likely finish: 15th

16. St George Illawarra Dragons

Current position: 16th, 16 points (5 wins), - 167
Remaining games: New Zealand Warriors (away), Newcastle Knights (home)

The Dragons still have a small chance of dropping to last, but would need to have the Tigers win both of their remaining games and lose both of their own.

Against two finals-bound sides, that seems almost a foregone conclusion, though.

Best possible finish: 15th
Worst possible finish: 17th
Likely finish: 16th

17. Wests Tigers

Current position: 17th, 14 points (4 wins), - 224
Remaining games: Sydney Roosters (away), Manly Sea Eagles (home)

The Tigers managed to snare a win over the Dolphins on the weekend, but by the time this weekend ends, they will likely have the wooden spoon locked away for a second straight year.

To avoid it, they need to win both and hope the Dragons don't pick up a win.

Best possible finish: 16th
Worst possible finish: 17th
Likely finish: 17th

Likely final ladder

1. Penrith Panthers
2. Brisbane Broncos
3. New Zealand Warriors
4. Melbourne Storm
5. Newcastle Knights
6. Cronulla Sharks
7. Sydney Roosters
8. Canberra Raiders
9. South Sydney Rabbitohs
10. North Queensland Cowboys
11. Manly Sea Eagles
12. Parramatta Eels
13. Gold Coast Titans
14. The Dolphins
15. Canterbury Bulldogs
16. St George Illawarra Dragons
17. Wests Tigers

Likely Week 1 finals

Qualifying final 1: Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Qualifying final 2: Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors
Elimination final 1: Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders
Elimination final 2: Cronulla Sharks vs Sydney Roosters