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Scorecard: Supporting Players

LIKELY WINNER: Giancarlo Esposito,

THR surveys the casts of television's most acclaimed shows to see which supporting players are in line for Emmy gold.

SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTOR

LIKELY WINNER: Max Greenfield, New Girl (Fox)

Pro: He steals every scene (even when he's not talking), giving Girl a consistent comedy centerpiece. And after two Family wins, this category is ripe for new blood. Con: The series, which skews younger, wasn't nominated.

Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: Last year's winner hit new heights as TV's Everydad, tugging emotions with relatable storylines (gasp -- his daughter isn't a virgin!). Con: If a Family guy is to win here, voters might spread love to O'Neill or Ferguson.

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Pro: From a snaky James Carville to emo-New York freak Stefon, the sketch vet defines versatile. And he never cracks. Ever. Con: An SNL actor has never won here, and this isn't a likely year for an upstart spoiler.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: He plays the, ahem, straight man in an ensemble of broad comedy actors. He also had great moments during Cam and Mitchell's baby drama. Con: Voters prefer physical-comedy antics here (Exhibit A: Stonestreet, Burrell).

Ed O'Neill, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: The veteran, and never-lauded, actor has a dry subtlety, which woos even the grumpiest viewer to fall in love with Family. Con: Three years in, it might be too late for an Emmy. And his Jay isn't given the most hilarious material.

Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: His Cam emerged as the first big reason to tune in, evidenced by his 2010 win and Stonestreet's rising star in movies. Con: If voters are swayed to give more Family love, it's likely they will look to O'Neill or Ferguson first.

SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTRESS

LIKELY WINNER: Sofa Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: She hosted SNL, was on the cover of Forbes and has more endorsement deals than Gloria has low-cut blouses. Con: With a burgeoning empire comes the risk of overexposure. The category also has two last-chance hopefuls.

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Pro: Bialik (hey, it's Blossom!) achieved the rarest feat in reinventing herself as an adult actor playing nerd-tastic neuro- scientist Amy Fowler. Con: She's up against previously nominated, never-awarded talent from winning series.

Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC)

Pro: Her Claire Dunphy netted Bowen her first Emmy last year, giving frazzled moms everywhere a new hero for the modern era. Con: Vergara is next in line for Family gold-- that is, unless voters decide they're ready for a newer face.

Kathryn Joostein, Desperate Housewives (ABC)

Pro: The late actress offered the only real laughs on a dramedy that veered toward absurdity at the end. Con: Previous nominations for guest star on Housewives netted her two wins, which some might see as sufficient accolades.

Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

Pro: She hit her stride after three seasons of sideline yuks and became a fascinating confidante for star Edie Falco's damaged Jackie. Cons: She's a small name among high-profile gals on nominated series.

Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Pro: Her fourth nomination comes after another dazzling season (those tiny hands!) and a teary goodbye after her seven-year run. Con: Amy Poehler earned two noms here for SNL but zero wins. Not a great precedent for Wiig's final bow.

SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTOR

LIKELY WINNER: Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Pro: The showdown between his drug lord, Gus Fring, and Walter White offered the scariest-coolest final moment in TV history. Con: Voters with weak stomachs might not have been so taken with his face-blown-off demise.

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Pro: His loyal butler, Mr. Carson, possesses the stoic resolve Emmy loves in its supporting contenders. Con: His sprawling cast has seven nominees, and recent winners have tended toward the flashier (see: Aaron Paul, Peter Dinklage).

Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Pro: His injured war veteran-turned- footman, John Bates, added another layer of intrigue to the drama when he was accused of murdering his wife. Con: He and Carter are equally great -- and mostly unknown. Not great news for either.

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)

Pro: Last year's surprise winner was, again, an effortless force of nature on HBO's buzzy nominated fantasy drama. Con: There hasn't been a repeat winner here since Ray Walston in the mid-1990s for Picket Fences.

Jared Harris, Mad Men (AMC)

Pro: Harris' Lane Pryce evolved from a quiet, incidental side character into a layered victim who died by his own hand -- Emmy's kind of drama. Con: Lane's arc was a slow burn and less of a focus than those of his competitors.

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Pro: The 2010 winner returns to the race after a year away, firing on all of Jesse Pinkman's crazy (yo, bitch!) cylinders. Con: Even Paul has admitted he's rooting for co-star Esposito to win in the latter's final year of eligibility.

SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTRESS

LIKELY WINNER: Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC)

Pro: Hendricks captivated Mad maniacs with her husband-ditching and sex-as-corporate- currency storylines. It was Joan's best year. Con: Recent winners here have been new faces (Panjabi, Margo Martindale).

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)

Pro: The Broadway vet and two-time nominee here is mesmerizing as Chicago attorney Diane Lockhart. Is she good? Is she bad? It's a blast trying to figure it out. Con: The series wasn't nominated, and there's too much new blood in the supporting race.

Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Pro: As housemaid Anna, Froggatt offered a fearless portrait of unconditional love for fellow attendant John Bates and unflagging loyalty to her charges. Con: She's a lesser- known name and could split votes with Smith.

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Pro: After three seasons in Walter White's shadow, her Skyler (finally) got to show her dark and dirty side in season four. Con: Between AMC's two contenders, Hendricks had the higher-profile arc and publicity blast.

Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife (CBS)

Pro: The 2010 winner's mysterious, sexy Kalinda is Good Wife's most unpredictable, addictive character. Con: Consecutive wins are rare; a win after a year of not winning is even more of an anomaly. Good Wife's snub doesn't help.

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Pro: A 2011 winner in the minis/movies category, Smith is Downton's most commanding presence as matriarch Violet. This category is kind to mature performers. Con: Downton fatigue could signal favoritism for an American actor.