Should Esposito prevail with his first nomination, he will be the 17th fellow to win this award in as many years. Indeed, there have been no repeat winners since Ray Walston ("Picket Fences") in 1996. Two of Esposito's rival nominees are past champs hoping to break that curse -- his co-star Aaron Paul who won in 2010 and last year's victor Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones"). They are in third and fourth place respectively as per our exclusive odds. (VIEW GALLERY showcasing the 16 different winners).
Esposito has the backing of 10 Experts, six Editors and 44% of Users for odds of 11 to 10. He submitted the episode "Hermanos," in which we see how his character Gustavo Fring went from restaurant owner to drug kingpin.
In second place is Jared Harris (Mad Men) at 10/3. He is supported by four Experts, three Editors, and 17% of Users. Also an Emmy rookie, Harris contends for his performance as doomed advertising executive Lane Pryce, who commits suicide in the episode "Commissions and Fees" after being forced to resign the agency for embezzlement. This storyline is reminiscent of 2008 when Zeljko Ivanek won for "Damages."
Paul, who was not eligible last year since the show had no new episodes, is in third place at 6/1 with votes from one Expert, one Editor, and 15% of users. In his episode "End Times," his drug-making character Jesse Pinkman holds Walter White (Bryan Cranston) at gunpoint, furious that a child has been poisoned.
Dinklage is in fourth position at 9/1 for his role as Tyrion Lannister. He has the support of 17% of Users. The episode "Blackwater" was the penultimate of the second season and shows an explosive battle to save King's Landing led by Lannister. He has some short speeches but nothing like the extended monologue that helped him win last year.
The final two spots are held by "Downton Abbey" co-stars Brendan Coyle at 25/1 and Jim Carter at a very distant 100/1. Both are Emmy first-timers and will have an uphill fight to try and win this year. Coyle submitted the season finale "Episode 7," in which his character John Bates is found guilty of murdering his wife. Carter submitted "Episode 2," a show where his butler character Charles Carter is readying a dinner for a visiting general. Coyle has 4% of User votes while Carter has 2%.