Emmy experts predict Drama Actor: Will Bob Odenkirk (‘Better Call Saul’) follow in Bryan Cranston’s (‘Breaking Bad’) footsteps?

During the “Breaking Bad” days, Bob Odenkirk watched as Bryan Cranston won a record-tying four Emmys (2008-2010, 2014) as Best Drama Actor for his iconic role of Walter White. Now that Odenkirk has taken his character Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” to spinoff series “Better Call Saul,” might he follow in Cranston’s footsteps and prevail at the Emmy Awards? It could happen — just look at our experts’ Emmy racetrack odds where Odenkirk is quickly gaining momentum.

As of this writing 18 journalists have made their predictions at Gold Derby, and five of them are picking Odenkirk to win for the AMC drama. They are: Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times). Though he’s lost both of his two acting Emmys, prior to “Better Call Saul” Odenkirk earned a pair of Best Variety Writing trophies for “Saturday Night Live” (1989) and “The Ben Stiller Show” (1993).

For Odenkirk to prevail he’ll have to get past Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), who’s still our experts’ overall pick to win Best Drama Actor. These eight are predicting Brown to triumph for playing breakout character Randall Pearson on NBC’s family drama: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). Brown won a statuette last year for “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” so he’s still in the Emmys’ honeymoon phase.

Last year’s Best Drama Actor champ Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) comes in next with three Emmy seers forecasting he’ll win back-to-back trophies: Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post) and Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby). Malek, who plays antisocial tech wiz Elliot Alderson on the USA drama, became one of the category’s youngest winners when he prevailed at the age of 35. And as we know, Emmy voters love to repeat in this category.

And the final two prognosticators — Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes) and Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby) — predict that Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) will prevail. A surprise nominee last year, Rhys shouldn’t be a shocker this time around as “The Americans” recently concluded its fifth season to rave reviews on FX. If Emmy voters fall even harder for the topical Russian spy drama this year, Rhys could easily take home the gold for playing conflicted agent Philip Jennings.

None of the pundits are currently predicting Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) to prevail, but 13 out of 18 think he’ll be nominated again for playing the duplicitous President Underwood on the Netflix series. Spacey actually has a combined eight losses so far for “House of Cards”: four for Best Drama Actor and four for Best Drama Series as a producer. Will the fact that the new season debuted at the tail-end of Emmy eligibility help Spacey stay top-of-mind with voters?

Six Emmy experts believe that Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”) will earn a nom for playing Dr. Robert Ford, the puppet-master of the western theme park filled with humanistic robots. Remember, Hopkins is an Oscar champ for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), something that never hurts with TV academy voters as there is much cache to having an Oscar winner standing on the Emmy stage.

Four journalists think that Billy Bob Thornton (“Goliath”) will earn an Emmy bid for taking on the role of Billy McBride, a former high-powered attorney whose career makes an ugly turn. Thornton, a previous nominee for “Fargo” (2014), has a secret weapon for his freshman Amazon series: David E. Kelley. The veteran TV writer and producer has helped 30 different performers win Emmys over the past few decades, which bodes well for Thornton’s chances.

Another four of our Emmy gurus are supporting a nom for Brown’s co-star Milo Ventimiglia, who plays father Jack Pearson on “This Is Us.” This would be Ventimiglia’s first Emmy notice after years starring on TV shows like “Gilmore Girls” and “Heroes.” Will voters nominate Ventimiglia and Brown together in this category, making them the seventh duo in the past 30 years honored for the same show?

Rounding out the most likely Best Drama Actor contenders, the following trio of men all have the support of three experts apiece to earn a Best Drama Actor nomination: Paul Giamatti (“Billions”), a former Emmy champ for “John Adams” (2008) and an Oscar nominee for “Cinderella Man” (2005); Ian McShane (“American Gods”), who earned a 2005 bid back in the “Deadwood” days; and Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”), who’s already earned back-to-back nominations in this race for his Showtime drama.

Predict the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 13

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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