'Dancing with the Stars' is already half-over, so we thought it was a good time to handicap the remaining contestants. Taking into consideration factors like their skills and apparent popularity with audience voters, here's how we think everyone will place.
The Disney star is a great dancer, but he seems to have little fan support. The judges gave the performance below a 26 out of 30 -- and he still wound up in the bottom three that week. That means there aren't enough tweens out there calling in for him.
He's adorable and all, but since he's not hunky ala William Levy or Donald Driver and he doesn't have the nostalgia factor going for him like some of the older contestants, his voter base is rather narrow. His greatest hope for sticking around may be getting the judges' votes during a Dance Duel next time he's in the bottom two.
Jaleel is a terrific hoofer, attractive, and, being a 90s sitcom star, he has some of the nostalgia thing going for him (albeit with Gen-X'ers rather than the Baby Boomers who are voting for Melissa Gilbert and Gladys Knight, but still). So why did he have to dance in a duel last week to stay alive?
Simply put, he's been plagued by some negative press. First it was his ex-girlfriend claiming he was verbally abusive with her, and on the heels of that story came backstage reports that he'd lost his temper in a bad way during a 'DWTS' rehearsal. The same week, he broke down and sobbed during the show's broadcast. Honestly, he kinda looked like a man on the edge, and voters seem to have reacted accordingly.
In a Dance Duel, the judges will keep him over lesser dancers, but it's too bad it even has to come to that.
Gladys Knight and Melissa could easily switch places on this list -- like the iconic singer, we're pretty sure Melissa's getting a good share of her votes from older viewers, especially those who remember her fondly from her days on 'Little House.'
But Melissa's also had her share of injuries this season, not to mention a broken back two years ago that resulted in her spine being surgically fused in a couple places. She's a competent dancer, but between her somewhat fragile physical state and the fact that she's splitting the nostalgia vote with Gladys, we don't think she'll go any further than 5th or 6th place.
Gladys isn't the best dancer in the bunch, but she's personable and oh yeah, a straight-up legend. That's almost certainly getting her some votes, and we suspect older viewers admire and respect the fact that she's doing 'DWTS.' This isn't a Z-list or forgotten celeb who needs the exposure -- legions of music fans consider her royalty.
She did the show simply because likes a challenge, and that's a sentiment that's surely endeared her to a lot of fans. It's their support that's kept her out of the bottom three, even as she's consistently gotten the lowest judges' scores. But if she winds up in one of the new Dance Duels, she'll be in trouble -- the judges decide who goes home based solely on dance ability.
Maria is charming and she's certainly a great dancer, but she's been injury-prone (with cracked ribs and a fractured foot already this season) and we're wondering if her on-screen flirtation with partner Derek Hough is wearing thin with viewers. Performance antics aside, we think the two are more friends than anything else, which begs the question: are they milking this whole thing for attention?
Couldn't really blame them if they are, but will voters keep supporting Maria? Or are they just voting to keep fan-favorite Hough on the show until the field of competitors gets a bit more narrow?
Driver, a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, continues the tradition of ballroom success for pro football players on 'DWTS.' His athletic prowess combined with the grace required of wide receivers makes him a particularly good competitor, giving him remarkable flexibility and the strength to pull off lifts with ease.
But even while he has a physique that's just as Adonis-like as fellow competitor William Levy's, he doesn't get the same love from the crowd, and his performances haven't been as consistently stellar. That said, when he's on, he's ON -- and if his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, can continue to showcase him as she did in the dance below, he may place higher than our prediction of third place.
The British opera singer is well-known in her own country but was new to most Americans when she first appeared on 'DWTS.' Since half of dancers' weekly scores come from audience votes, relative obscurity can be deadly, but Jenkins' unbelievable skills on the floor and her personality have won the hearts of many viewers.
We rank her No. 2 only because it's tough for women to win this show -- ladies have the harder dance moves and are watched most closely, and since the majority of the show's audience voters are female, William Levy's swoon-factor may be insurmountable. Still, we think she's the best dancer this season.
The telenovela star -- known as the "Mexican Brad Pitt" to fans -- is a strong dancer for sure, but let's be honest here. His remarkable good looks are at least partially responsible for his success on 'DWTS,' proven by the deafening shrieks from the ladies in the ballroom every time he performs. His partner, two-time 'DWTS' champ Cheryl Burke, is no idiot -- she showcases his model-perfect body whenever she can, sometimes having him dance shirtless or close to it (if she could get away with it, she'd probably trot him out in his tighty-whities every week).
He's had some less than perfect performances and currently has a torn ligament in one of his feet that could impact future dances, but given his strong ballroom skills and overwhelming popularity with the voters, we have to assign him the best odds of taking home the coveted mirrorball trophy.