Are we underestimating Pearson patriarch Milo Ventimiglia at the Emmys yet again?

One of the surprise Emmy nominees two years ago was Milo Ventimiglia. All eyes were on his “This Is Us” son Sterling K. Brown, who ended up winning Best Drama Actor, but Ventimiglia shocked us all when he made the seven-nominee field, as he was in 10th place in our odds then. This year? The actor is currently in seventh place in our predictions, which means he’ll be just out of the lineup unless there’s another “tie” within two percent. But are we making a terrible mistake and underestimating Jack Pearson again?

Ventimiglia received his second straight bid last year, but right now he’s on the outside looking in. Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) leads our odds, followed by Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”), Brown, Billy Porter (“Pose”) and Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”).

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Leaving aside returning nominees Odenkirk, Bateman and Brown, it’s understandable why newbies Madden and Porter, and former supporting nominee Harington are being predicted. Both Madden and Porter had huge years with their respective shows. Madden won the Golden Globe already (not that that always correlates to an Emmy nomination) and Porter has also been tearing up red carpets everywhere. And Harington was on the biggest show in the world that just ended.

But we know Emmy voters are creatures of habit, so what’s stopping them from checking off returning nominee Ventimiglia’s name again? He plays an absolutely beloved character on the most heart-tugging of the eligible shows, and most importantly, actors love “This Is Us.” Of the NBC drama’s 18 Emmy nominations, 11 of them have been for acting — and seven of them were in the first season. It’s only won three Emmys so far — all for acting: Brown, Gerald McRaney (Best Drama Guest Actor, 2017) and Ron Cephas Jones (Best Drama Guest Actor, 2018). The show nabbed back-to-back Screen Actors Guild Awards for drama ensemble, the first of which was a minor surprise as well over zeitgeist hit “Stranger Things.”  The acting branch is clearly where “This Is Us'” strength lies, and that’s enough to push Ventimiglia over the edge.

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Madden and Porter are, obviously, untested since their shows are new. But you know what’s one show that does not have a lot of acting support? Yup, “Game of Thrones.” Unless your name is Peter Dinklage, of course. Of our predicted six nominees, Harington is arguably the weakest, not just because he’s in the sixth spot. “Thrones” can snag nominations for most of its main stars, but it failed to break into the lead categories last year when Harington and Emilia Clarke were bumped up from supporting. Harington, who only has one Emmy nomination under his belt, also had less to do this season than he did in Season 7, not to mention the backlash against the final season could hurt him. If there is a tremendous swell to bid “Thrones” a fond farewell, then sure, he could get swept up in that, but all the data and their respective Emmy histories favor Ventimiglia if you look at them head to head.

What’s more, this race is one of the most unpredictable ones of the year. Seven different people have votes from our Experts to win: the top six and Brian Cox (“Succession”), who’s in eighth place. Such seemingly divided support and no clear favorite can also help Ventimiglia sneak back in there.

PREDICT the Emmys now; change them until July 16

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominations are announced on July 16. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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