“Brothers & Sisters”
Why he might win: Bridges is old-school Hollywood, and the Academy may want to remember there are actors out there older than the “Glee” cast.
Maybe not: With the show canceled by ABC and never having been an Emmy magnet even in its heyday, Bridges has a tough fight ahead of him.
Why he might win: It’s the last time to reward Dern for his continued strong performances on an often dark show. His character is one of the few who doesn’t mind lightening a situation that has overly serious overtones.
Maybe not: The show went off the air with more of a whimper than a bang, and Dern’s role in the final season was minor.
Why he might win: Like his character in “Lost,” Davies’ “Justified” persona was soft spoken but it was impossible for viewers turn away.
Maybe not: Despite a critically acclaimed nuanced performance, Davies may not resonate with voters in the way co-stars Timothy Olyphant or Margo Martindale could.
Michael J. Fox
“The Good Wife”
Why he might win: One of Hollywood’s good guys who garners tons of respect for every role he takes, Fox has been a superb addition to a winning show.
Maybe not: With Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles nominated in their respective categories, voters might not want to give “The Good Wife” too much love.
Why he might win: There’s still some residual goodwill and admiration for McCrane’s role as the one-armed surgeon on “ER.”
Maybe not: Kathy Bates is the centerpiece of the show and other actors may not have the cachet to garner attention.
Why he might win: Morse has been playing ad men since his 1962 Tony Award-winning stint in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He’s a perfect fit for the role.
Maybe not: The last season ended in October. That’s a long time ago to remember why Morse should top the rest of the impressive list.
Why she might win: Right out of the gate, Buono sparked plenty of interest playing Don’s newest blonde — a woman whose intelligence and ambition seemed to match his own.
Maybe not: With so many stellar thesps on “Mad Men,” hard to say how the Acad divvies up the honors.
Why she might win: Being on pay cable has its advantages. Cusack’s character had the freedom that many of her competitors didn’t enjoy.
Maybe not: Difficult to say if voters want to bestow an Emmy on the actress in the only new show in this category. They may think it needs to earn its way for a year or two first.
Why she might win: The character actress subtly portrayed the beginning of an Alzheimer’s patient in a realistic way that could resonate with those who know of sufferers of the disease.
Maybe not: This is the same character Devine’s been playing for most of the run of the show, and thus it may not feel fresh to some.
Why she might win: As Don Draper’s steadfast secretary Mrs. Blankenship, Heller’s brought a light touch to an devastatingly serious period piece.
Maybe not: Feels like a scenario where the recognition of a nomination might be more than enough.
Why she might win: She’s good enough in the TNT procedural staple that the network made her one of the stars of the upcoming sequel.
Maybe not: Her low-key approach to playing this unlikable character may not put her in the good graces of the TV Acad.
Why she might win: She mirrored Michael C. Hall’s ability to make a serial killer look sympathetic and, dare we say, almost noble. She pulled a tightrope act of maintaining vulnerability while extracting her gory revenge.
Maybe not: Stiles was more of a co-star this season than a guest star and may suffer some backlash for it.
Why she might win: Actors on “True Blood” have not received much Emmy love, so if there are voters who are fans of the show, this may be their opportunity to give it some long-earned due.
Maybe not: Vampire sagas haven’t traditionally had good fortune against more realistic dramatic fare.
Guest star eligibility worthy of debate | Drama guest stars vie for Emmy | Guests shine in comedies