Emmy predictions slugfest 2018: ‘This Is Us’ stars had better watch out for Matthew Rhys (‘The Americans’) [WATCH]

According to Gold Derby contributor Amanda Spears, the Best Drama Actor race isn’t ripe for an upset this year like many of us think. “I think this looks pretty good for Sterling K. Brown,” she says, placing her chips on the “This Is Us” star to repeat. Spears recently joined me and our fellow contributors Charles Bright and Tom O’Brien to dig into the category. Watch our entire slugfest above.

In 2017 Brown became the first black actor in 19 years to win this prize, following Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) in 1998. He once again competes against his co-star Milo Ventimiglia, as well as previous Emmy winner Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”) and prior Emmy nominees Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ed Harris (“Westworld”), and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”).

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While the law of conservation of Emmy winners should give Brown the edge (voters often love to keep rewarding the same people), he’s facing heat this year from Ventimiglia, who had his strongest season yet, earning raves especially for the episode where it was finally revealed how his character, Jack Pearson, died: he had a fatal heart attack due to the smoke inhalation he suffered in a house fire.

“Milo Ventimiglia is a very credible person here,” Bright argues. However, he’s sticking with Brown because of how much passion there is for both Ventimiglia and Rhys. If voters can’t agree on one alternative to Brown, that helps Brown’s chances of repeating.

But vote-splitting could help Rhys just as much, if not more. Many are expecting the TV academy to be divided between the “This Is Us” stars, paving the way for Rhys to prevail for the last season of his series, just like Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”) and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) before him. In fact, Rhys recently moved into first place in our overall predictions with odds of 9/10.

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O’Brien believes Rhys has a fighting chance especially when you consider his memorable confrontation scene in the series finale, “START” (which is the actor’s episode submission). In a parking garage, Rhys’s Russian spy finally admits the truth to his friend and FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich): “It’s gripping because he’s trying to talk his friend and neighbor out of doing his job, based on friendship. I found myself on the edge of my seat.”

I’m predicting Rhys for both reasons: because of his performance in the finale and because of the likelihood that Ventimiglia will siphon votes from Brown. Of course, that could also benefit Bateman. Or one of the two “Westworld” men. Either way, this race might be more competitive than we think.

Make your Emmy predictions, so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the ceremony on September 17. And join in the fun debate taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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