Coach Brendon Bolton has hailed Carlton's spirit after their stunning upset AFL win against Geelong, as Collingwood's injury woes have worsened.
The Blues are just one win outside the top eight after downing Geelong by 19 points on Sunday.
The Western Bulldogs banked a 21-point victory against a crippled Collingwood, who played the last 20 minutes on Sunday without four injured players, while West Coast hammered Gold Coast by 77 points.
Carlton overcame ankle injuries to captain Marc Murphy and Liam Sumner to post a stirring victory against the fancied Cats. It's the Blues' fifth win in Bolton's debut season.
"It's a particularly gutsy win, considering," Bolton said of the 16.8 (104) to 12.13 (85) triumph.
"It more needs to reflect on our players and their bond and care for each other."
The Blues (five wins, five losses) are ahead of Collingwood on the ladder after the Magpies were overwhelmed by the Bulldogs, who won 11.8 (74) to 7.11 (53) at the MCG.
The Magpies already had 10 players unavailable through injury, and when young forward Darcy Moore injured a shoulder in the last quarter, it left Collingwood with no fit players on the interchange bench.
Alan Toovey was concussed, midfielder Taylor Adams suffered a left hamstring injury and forward Alex Fasolo had his match ended by a left shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, West Coast thrashed the hapless Suns 20.12 (132) to 7.13 (55) to consolidate their status in the top eight.
North Melbourne, after a first loss of the season to Sydney on Friday night, are just one game clear of the second-placed Swans.
Then comes a pack - Geelong, GWS, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and West Coast - with seven wins and three losses.
And for the first time a gap has broken between the top eight and the rest: Adelaide, after an impressive 22-point win against Greater Western Sydney, hold eighth spot by four premiership points.
Melbourne and Port Adelaide head the chasers, joined by Carlton, while Fremantle remain the sole winless club.
Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney will face the match review panel for three jabs to the head of Brad Ebert during Port's 45-point win in the Alice Springs fixture.
The Power have beaten Melbourne the past three times in Alice, which is a nominal home ground for the Demons.
"It's never going to be a home advantage, is it? You're only playing up here once a year," Melbourne coach Paul Roos said.