While the race for the top eight looks set to be tighter than ever before, the captain of the 1996 and 1999 premiership sides says the Kangaroos ‘are better than Richmond, Essendon and Fremantle’ and expects them to play in the finals for the second year running.
“There's no bias in me seeing the Roos in the top eight,” Carey told the Wide World of Sports’ website.
North won 10 of its last 12 regular season games in 2012, before a thrashing at the hands of West Coast saw Brad Scott’s men bow out in the first week of finals.
However, Carey is confident the Kangaroos can put the memory of the loss to the Eagles behind them and be a force again.
“Although they got flogged in the finals last year, they showed in the second half of the season that they can play some good quality football," he added.
“Given their tough draw, I might be going out on a limb, but I believe they'll sneak into the eight again.”
In the first five rounds, North will face four of last year’s finalists, as well as NAB Cup Grand Final winner Brisbane.