‘Game of Thrones’ ahead of ‘Mad Men’ in tight race for Emmy history

I’m excited for this Sunday’s Emmy Awards, which I’ll be attending for the first time (follow my tweets @GoldDerby throughout the night). And one of the things I’m most excited about is the chance to witness TV history. This year two dramas are on a collision course; it seems like either HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” will take flight or AMC’s ’60s drama “Mad Men” will win the pitch. (Watch our riotous slugfest below to see Gold Derby editors go head to head to assess the chances for both series.)

Emmy predictions: ‘Game of Thrones’ gets 10-to-11 odds to be crowned drama king

Mad Men” enters the ceremony with an impressive resume. It has 15 Emmy wins. Four of those were for Best Drama Series (2008-2011). That ties it with “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “The West Wing” as the Emmys’ most awarded drama. No show has ever won five, so if “Mad Men” takes the top prize this year it sets a new record.

With the series having wrapped in May, this is the final act for “Mad Men” at the Emmys. Therefore this is its last chance at making history. Its final season saw increased buzz and industry sentiment for the show. As a result, the TV academy gave it three more nominations than last year (11 bids, up from eight). Jon Hamm is favored to finally win Best Drama Actor and the series finale “Person to Person” is out front for Best Drama Writing. When we combine the predictions of Experts (the panel of 18 top TV journalists we polled from Deadline, Variety, TV Line and more), Gold Derby’s in-house Editors (myself included) and more than a thousand of our website’s Users, both Hamm and the “Person to Person” lead with odds of 1/4.

For these reasons, “Mad Men” is placed second with combined odds of 27/20 for Best Drama Series. Standing in its way are the fact it hasn’t won any Emmys in three years and the strength of the other drama on its own road to Emmy history.

This year “Game of Thrones” led with an epic 24 nominations. Last Saturday at the Creative Arts awards it took home an impressive eight. The record for most wins by a series in a single season is the first season of “The West Wing” which garnered nine in 2000. This means to break the record, the magic number for “Game of Thrones” on Sunday is two out of the five categories in which it contends.

Lena Headey is ahead to win Drama Supporting Actress with combined odds of 8/5 and the season finale “Mother’s Mercy” is ahead to win Drama Directing with odds of 2/3. If they falter in one of those two and fail to surprise elsewhere they will need to win Best Drama Series to set the record.

Fortunately for “Game of Thrones,” we place it out front in the series stakes with leading odds of 21/20. This is because of this overdue contender’s Creative Arts haul, its critical acclaim and its singular impact on the television landscape. Standing in its way, however, is the young-skewing appeal of the show and the fact that “Lost” in  is the only sci-fi or fantasy show to have ever won this category.

So on Emmy night I’ll be there to see whether nostalgia for one of the academy’s favorite shows of all time or excitement for the pop cultural juggernaught of our time will win out to claim a place in the history books.

Emmy experts predictions: Tom O’Neil vs. Pete Hammond on top drama races (Video)

Make your own Emmys picks now to the right or at the bottom of this post. You could win one of our three prizes ($500, $300 and $200 Amazon gift certificates) as well as a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmys line-up).

Last year, our Experts had an accuracy rate of 58.62% when it came to predicting the Emmy winners. That score tied them with both Gold Derby’s Editors and the Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best at predicting last year’s Emmys). Our Users scored  51.72% (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

Which group will be victorious this year? Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar.

As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it’s important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.

Photo: Emilia Clarke in “Game of Thrones.” Credit: HBO

Photo: Jon Hamm in “Mad Men.” Credit: AMC

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