Handicapping the 2013 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Drama

Here's how the pack for the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama is shaping up.

(FX/AP Photo)

"The Americans" presents a gripping examination of identity, marriage and what it means to be a patriot.

By + More

Who will be the be the big drama winner at the 2013 Emmy awards? The nominations won't be announced until July, with awards being doled out in September. But with Friday marking the end of the eligibility period (meaning only shows that have aired between June 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013 will be considered), we at least have some idea of how the pack is shaping up. Here are some of the newcomers, old favorites and potential surprises in 2013 Outstanding Drama race:

New Competitors

The Americans: The little FX drama that could was the dramatic surprise of the year. It would be easy to write off "The Americans" as a Cold War version of "Homeland" (last year's Outstanding Drama winner). But in addition to some awesome '80s fashions, "The Americans" presented a gripping examination of identity, marriage and what it means to be a patriot.

The Newsroom: Critics, for the most part, hated "The Newsroom," but that didn't stop the HBO show from gaining some hard core fans. Considering Aaron Sorkin's shows usually clean up at the Emmys — his last show, "The West Wing" was nominated for Outstanding Drama six times, winning four — the Sorkin seal might just be enough to score the polarizing drama a nomination.

[READ: Why The Americans Will Have You Cheering for the Cold War Enemy]

House of Cards: Is the Academy of Arts and Sciences willing to honor a show produced exclusively for a Internet streaming company? That is the question for the Netflix political drama "House of Cards." Critics Choice nominations for the performances of Kevin Spacey and Corey Stoll were a welcome precedence, but that might mean the show will be limited to acting noms at the Emmys as well.

Old Show Ponies

Homeland: The freshman season of "Homeland" won Outstanding Drama last year and swept five other categories. But its second season, after a strong start, fell apart. It's hard to see the voters snubbing the show entirely, but it's no shoe-in for the big award.

[READ: Netflix One Step Closer to Executive's Emmy Wish]

Breaking Bad: The first half of its fifth season has been strong, making "Breaking Bad" a lock for its fourth Outstanding Drama nomination. In a year that other established dramas struggled, it's also a major contender for the big award.

Downton Abbey: Like "Homeland," "Downton Abbey" stumbled this year, no longer making it the sure nomination it was supposed to get after last year's strong showing.

Mad Men: After a four-year Outstanding Drama winning spree, "Mad Men" began to lose its luster last year, getting knocked off its pedestal by "Homeland." The reaction to the show's sixth season has been lukewarm at best, so while a nom is to be expected, this is unlikely to be the year it jumps back into the winner's circle.

Game of Thrones: The fifth season has been pleasing fans and critics alike, making "Game of Thrones" a strong contender for a nomination. With the pack as crowded as it is, the fantasy drama's chances for an award face an uphill battle.

Dark Horses

Rectify: Critics love "Rectify," a Sundance Channel show that many viewers have probably never even heard of. Nevertheless, its Emmy consideration is likely to be limited to the performance of lead actor Aden Young.

[READ: Handicapping the 2013 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Comedy]

Scandal: The political drama may be a little soap-y for Emmy sensitivities, but "Scandal" has amassed a devoted following (just search for its Twitter hashtag on a Thursday night) and critical accolades alike. Plus, showrunner Shonda Rhimes has been basking in well-earned attention for her show's portrayal of race, gender and LGBT dynamics.

More News: