Emmy experts divided: Will ‘The Crown’ or ‘This Is Us’ be named TV’s Best Drama Series?

With “Game of Thrones” sitting out this year’s Emmy cycle because it didn’t air within the eligibility period, our Emmy experts are now split on what will replace it as TV’s Best Drama Series. They say that two frontrunners have emerged as of this early stage: “The Crown” and “This Is Us.” While you can usually look to the precursors as a guide, they are no help this year, with the Golden Globes choosing “The Crown,” the SAG and PGA Awards going for “Stranger Things,” and the WGA and TCA Awards picking “The Americans.”

As of this writing we’ve polled 16 TV journalists from top media outlets for their Emmy picks, and six of them predict a victory for Netflix’s “The Crown”: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Adnan Virk (ESPN). Centered around the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of England, “The Crown” stars recent SAG winners Claire Foy as the Queen and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill.

Five experts are backing a victory for NBC’s “This Is Us”: Eric Deggans (NPR), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby) and Ken Tucker (Yahoo). This family drama that stars Mandy Moore across multiple timelines is a hit with critics and TV fans alike, and it’s also predicted to win Best Drama Actor for Sterling K. Brown and Drama Supporting Actress for Chrissy Metz.

The Hulu hit “The Handmaid’s Tale” is the pick of three Emmy prognosticators: Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). The streaming series led by Elisabeth Moss is based on the book by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and tells the story of a dystopian future where lower class, fertile women are forced to bear children for rich, entitled married couples.

The remaining pair of Emmy seers — Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life) and Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly) — go out on a limb for Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The sci-fi series set in the 1980s recently took home top prizes at the SAG and PGA Awards, making it a force to be reckoned with at the Emmys. However, might the show’s 15-month drought hurt its Emmy chances, as season 2 doesn’t debut until Halloween?

None of our experts are currently predicting a victory for any other Best Drama Series hopefuls, but all 16 believe that “The Americans” will earn its second consecutive nomination. FX’s Russian spy series, which is more timely than ever before, took four years to finally get into the top race and now it looks as though it will stay there for this penultimate season.

HBO’s sci-fi/western “Westworld” is next in line, with 12 journalists predicting it’ll take over the slot usually held by “Game of Thrones.” Amazingly, since HBO first made a splash in the Best Drama Series race with “The Sopranos” in 1999, the pay-cabler has had at least one drama nominated every year except for 2008. Will this year continue the trend?

AMC’s legal program “Better Call Saul” has the support of 11 prognosticators for a third consecutive series bid. A spinoff of Emmy fave “Breaking Bad,” it’s a crime that the Bob Odenkirk-fronted drama hasn’t yet won an Emmy Award in any category. Will that all change this year thanks to the program’s third season that’s airing to critical acclaim?

House of Cards” doesn’t premiere until May 30, but three odds-makers think the Netflix political drama will earn its fifth bid in the category. Starring Kevin Spacey as the duplicitous President Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his V.P. wife Claire, Emmy voters may feel the urge to stream the new season all at once as a way to escape from real-life politics.

Rounding out the top 11 contenders, all of the following dramas have two experts predicting they’ll earn nominations: CBS All Access’s “The Good Fight,” a spinoff of “The Good Wife”; Showtime’s “Homeland,” a one-time winner of Best Drama Series in 2012; and USA’s “Mr. Robot,” last year’s Drama Series nominee and champion for Rami Malek as Best Drama Actor.

Predict the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 13

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

Sign up for Gold Derby’s newsletter with experts’ latest predictions

More News from GoldDerby