The finals are starting to slip away from Manly and Wests Tigers and they've copped big rankings slides this week as a result of that.
All is not lost for the Warriors and Titans even though they might not be in playoff contention. Their recent efforts provide hope for the future.
Here are the rankings after the completion of Round 13.
1. Penrith Panthers (Last week: 1)
The kids are mucking up. Penrith are in such a zone where they just keep winning and they're having fun doing it. But it might do them good to falter one week and then reset their focus. They understand each other's roles and look fresh, strong and fast.
2. Melbourne Storm (2)
Craig Bellamy's willingness to adapt is admirable. The Storm have moved bases three times this year and haven't missed a beat. There's something special brewing with Melbourne and they're my favourites to win it all.
3. Sydney Roosters (4)
I'd love to sit down with Trent Robinson one day and talk footy for hours. He's the best coach in the competition and keeps getting the best out of his troops despite key injuries. What an organisation. They're a pleasure to watch.
4. Parramatta Eels (3)
They're in a really flat period and still winning games, so credit is due for that. It could be the case that Parramatta are building nicely after hitting a wall. However, the sides above them are travelling better.
5. Canberra Raiders (5)
Canberra aren't a top-four team and they got owned by Penrith. In saying that they're better than those below them on their day so they stay put.
Get Caught Up: Round 13
6. Newcastle Knights (8)
Newcastle might not be a top-four team either, but the arrival of veteran playmaker Blake Green puts them right in the race for spots five and six. Green allows Kalyn Ponga to just play fullback rather than having to play five-eighth as well.
7. Cronulla Sharks (7)
Shaun Johnson had his best game in two years despite losing to the Eels. The halfback's effect on the team has significantly improved. Earlier in the season he was being rewarded with try assists but wasn't directing the side. The challenge is to do it every week.
8. South Sydney Rabbitohs (9)
In a holding pattern with the Rabbitohs. They might not be as good as previously thought, but they're certainly winning the games they need to at the moment to put themselves in top-eight contention.
9. Manly Sea Eagles (6)
When your roster is skinny, this is what happens if you don't get the best out of the guys that come in. Last year was a good platform but Des Hasler will sit back at season's end and look at players to bring who can bolster the squad.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Warriors
10. New Zealand Warriors (12)
What more can I say? Words can't describe what they've done for the NRL, and they continue to scrap and fight. With the appointment of Nathan Brown as coach for the upcoming three seasons, the club can start to heal and move forward with significant roster changes.
11. Canterbury Bulldogs (11)
It was far from their best performance against the Storm, but they get a reprieve because I couldn't move anyone ahead of them. Expect them to bounce back with a better effort next week.
12. Wests Tigers (10)
The Tigers are done now. There's something going on deeper than their performances. It's hard to watch a team play for their season and lose by 40.
13. Gold Coast Titans (15)
Get excited, Titans fans, because you might have the brightest prospects in Queensland for the next year or two. AJ Brimson has surprised me since coming back and it was great to see Ash Taylor smiling. He's got a coach who believes in him.
Don celebrates contract extension with early try
14. St George Illawarra Dragons (13)
They had another chance to save their season against the Roosters and were poor. The chopping and changing of positions hasn't helped their cohesion and the players don't look like they're in agreeance.
15. North Queensland Cowboys (14)
Only narrowly ahead of the Broncos. The Titans rolled through them on Sunday. Like Brisbane, they need to make a decision on their coach and start planning for next season.
16. Brisbane Broncos (16)
Things seemingly can't get any worse - but I think they will. It's time they pull the trigger and make some hard decisions because their style hasn't changed. Maybe it will with Peter Gentle at the helm while Anthony Seibold is under a COVID hold.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.