They've said it before, but this time our "American Idol" experts really mean it: This is the week Casey James is riding off into the sunset, paving the way for the long-expected showdown in next week's "Idol" finale between Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze.

"Simon Cowell and company have been pushing for a Lee/Crystal finale since week one, and it looks as though they'll be getting that come results-show time," MTV News' resident "Idol" expert Jim Cantiello predicted. "Casey did nothing to convince America that he deserved to break up the MamaSox and DeWyze showdown. Rewind to a year ago, where Kris Allen was expected to sing his swan song but instead showed up armed with brilliance."

Cantiello said Casey squandered his chance to gain ground after landing the opening slot on Tuesday night's show by picking a song from obscure singer Eric Hutchinson, "OK, It's Alright With Me." He was then saddled with a lackluster judges' pick in John Mayer's "Daughters."

"Crystal's got the fanbase; Lee's got the momentum," Cantiello said. "Casey's got ... the opportunity to pack his bags. Mr. James, you are no match for the judges' pimping. Sorry. It's been fun."

Our other expert, MJ Santilli of MJsBigBlog.com, couldn't agree more, though she added that it might just be time to crown DeWyze the champ right now after his bravura performance of the oft-sung "Idol" chestnut "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen.

"Wow. Simon Cowell manufactured quite the moment for Lee, with the choir, and the horns and strings," she said of the dramatic show-closing performance by DeWyze, the former paint-store clerk and high school rabble-rouser.

"He also made sure the song had the proper 'climax' as he called it," Santilli said. "The thing is, the big showy numbers are what move viewers to pick up the phone and vote. I'll bet that Lee ran away with the vote tonight. He's in the final for sure. But not undeservedly — Simon's machinations notwithstanding, Lee delivered two solid vocals this week."

That leaves Crystal and Casey to fight it out for the final spot, and Santilli lamented that small-town Ohio soul mama Bowersox had just an OK night. "Her vocals were strained, and she seemed distracted," Santilli noted. "And I have to wonder how viewers at home responded to her repeated declarations, 'I'm a man, I'm a man' [during her cover of Paul McCartney's 'Maybe I'm Amazed']. Singing the song from a man's point of view diminished the song's emotional punch."

But Bowersox may still be saved thanks to positive comments from the judges, who Santilli said seemed to have it in for James. "They obviously want him gone," she opined. "Instead of critiquing his vocals (which were quite good), they picked apart his song choices and played up his eye-candy appeal. It's true, Casey's first song was pretty boring, but I thought he deserved more credit for his sweet version of 'Daughters.' I hate to admit it, but if minimizing Casey's performance helps Crystal advance to the final, I'm all for it."

Do you agree with our expert's picks? Who do you think is going home? Post your comments below.

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