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Emmy Predictions: Will ‘Mad Men’ & ‘Game of Thrones’ Lead Drama Race?

Last year’s drama race was a dead heat between “Breaking Bad” and “True Detective.” With both of those series out of contention this year (the current “True Detective” debuted too late for consideration) — and the rule changes now allowing for seven nominees — the field is wide open.

It’s a tough call to predict who’ll nab those slots: it’s been a banner year for drama, with roughly 150 series entering the race vs. 100 last year. There are well over a dozen legitimate contenders, from the usual stalwarts to freshman favorites.

That said, here’s what dramas we predict will get the call on Thursday. (Click to see predictions for the comedy series contenders).

AMC’s “Mad Men” is a lock for a nomination. Creator Matthew Weiner’s prestige drama has earned a nod every year it’s been in contention, and ended its storied run just as voters were about to cast their ballots.

Ditto HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Despite the Internet backlash about the violence of this season, there’s no denying the majestic, incredible production value of the sprawling masterpiece.

Save two slots for the Netflix shows “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” Never bet against Netflix’s marketing muscle, which has campaigned fiercely for both Beau Willimon’s D.C. potboiler and Jenji Kohan’s prison dramedy, which should survive its category switch from comedy. Even though “Orange” is in contention for its second season, which debuted last summer, the timing of the third season — which premiered June 12, just as voting was underway — was savvy indeed.

Broadcast’s best hope for a nod lies with Fox’s “Empire” and CBS’ “The Good Wife.” The buzzy hip-hop family drama was the story of the season, and that may well propel “Empire” onto the list. And the consistently challenging “The Good Wife” deserves to make a return to the nomination circle, which would be its first since 2011.

Which leaves one last slot. There are many worthy contenders: FX’s “The Americans,” a critical darling, as well as Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and “The Affair,” which took the Golden Globe for best drama. And then there’s “Homeland,” which had a thrilling, resurgent fourth season. And, of course, never count out Emmy favorite “Downton Abbey,” which the voters love to recognize despite critical grumbling.

Given all that, sentiment will win out, and the final slot will go to AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” the worthy heir apparent to “Breaking Bad.”

To recap:

• “Better Call Saul” (AMC)

• “Empire” (Fox)

• “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

• “The Good Wife” (CBS)

• “House of Cards” (Netflix)

• “Mad Men” (AMC)

• “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)

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