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Best bets for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards

LOS ANGELES – The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place this Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Emmys are another opportunity for bettors to get their money on the table for something other than sports, and there is value to be found in the major award categories.

Who better to break down the best bets for the 69th Emmy Awards than a film/television buff from Las Vegas? Josh Bell, film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, gives his insight into which shows and actors should walk away with the trophies – and the cash.

Outstanding Comedy Series

"Veep" 1/2
"Atlanta" 3/1
"Master of None" 40/1
"Black-ish" 50/1
"Modern Family" 66/1
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" 66/1
"Silicon Valley" 80/1

What Will Win

Emmy voters love picking a favorite and sticking with it, and "Veep" has won the last two years, making it the new momentum-fueled frontrunner after years of wins for "Modern Family." The HBO show is edgy and vulgar enough to make it feel like a slightly subversive pick, while conventional enough to appeal to veteran TV insiders. Its political satire makes it extra timely in the current polarized political climate, with the chance that producers might say something controversial (and thus go viral on social media) in their acceptance speech.

What Should Win

While "Veep" has settled into familiar rhythms over the years, Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series "Master of None" is structurally the boldest show among the nominees, mixing familiar serialized storytelling about relationships and career setbacks with unconventional episodic approaches that make each individual installment feel like its own event. Ansari has said that he may not produce a third season, making this potentially the last chance to give Master of None its due.

Outstanding Drama Series

"Stranger Things" 7/4
"The Handmaid’s Tale" 11/5
"This Is Us" 11/2
"The Crown" 9/1
"Westworld" 28/1
"Better Call Saul" 80/1
"House of Cards" 80/1

What Will Win

With recent repeat winner "Game of Thrones" ineligible this year (not having aired any new episodes during the eligibility period), along with the presence of five first-time nominees, this category is more of a toss-up than usual. While Netflix’s "Stranger Things" has momentum thanks to wins from the Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, don’t count out NBC’s "This Is Us," the only broadcast network show in the category, an old-fashioned family drama that might appeal to voters’ sense of nostalgia for TV’s simpler days.

What Should Win

The trend in acclaimed drama has been toward more serious, serialized and sometimes self-important storytelling, which applies to most of the nominees here. "Stranger Things" succumbs to some of those problems, but at least its ’80s pastiche has some lightness and stylish humor along with its drawn-out, occasionally plodding narrative.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Donald Glover, Atlanta 2/3
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent 11/2
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish 10/1
William H. Macy, Shameless 12/1
Aziz Ansari, Master of None 18/1
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets 40/1

Who Will Win

Tambor has won in the last two years, and although "Transparent" itself isn’t nominated in the main Comedy Series category, the show and Tambor’s performance still have enough acclaim to make him a strong favorite here, thanks to the trend of continuing to reward the same work (prior to Tambor’s wins, Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" won in four out of the previous five years).

Who Should Win

Glover has proved to be a remarkable chameleon on FX’s often challenging "Atlanta" (which he also created), and while odds have him as a possible favorite, his show and his performance may be a little too odd and a little too internalized to wow Emmy voters.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" 1/4
Tracee Ellis Ross, "Black-ish" 10/1
Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie" 28/1
Allison Janney, "Mom" 40/1
Pamela Adlon, "Better Things" 66/1
Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" 66/1
Jane Fonda, "Grace and Frankie" 80/1

Who Will Win

There’s basically no question that Louis-Dreyfus, who’s won this award for all five previous seasons of "Veep," will walk away the winner again. She’s Emmy royalty, having won for "Seinfeld" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" as well, and the recent announcement that the upcoming seventh season of "Veep" will be its last just means that Emmy voters are likely to take every opportunity to award a show and a star that are clearly among their very favorites.

Who Should Win

Louis-Dreyfus aside, most of the other nominees in this category star on shows that feature plenty of serious moments along with their humor, which is why Kemper, star of Netflix’s nonstop joke-fest "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," really deserves more credit. She delivers constant punchlines and yet makes the show’s title character into a believably resilient, vulnerable and evolving human being.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, "This Is Us" 8/13
Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul" 14/5
Anthony Hopkins, "Westworld" 22/1
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards" 33/1
Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan" 50/1
Milo Ventimiglia, "This Is Us" 50/1
Matthew Rhys, "The Americans" 66/1

Who Will Win

In a category with no recent history of repeat winners and three first-time nominees, it’s a bit hard to say. Brown has been a recent breakout star, both on "This Is Us" and on "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" (for which he won an Emmy last year), but "This Is Us" is a true ensemble without a clear lead, and that ambiguity, plus competing against his co-star Ventimiglia, may hurt Brown’s chances. Odenkirk has been nominated twice before, so he may be due for the award, especially given that "Better Call Saul" predecessor "Breaking Bad" was a longtime Emmy favorite.

Who Should Win

"The Americans" has run for five seasons on FX with massive critical acclaim but very little Emmy attention, and Rhys is consistently great as a Russian sleeper agent in 1980s suburban America, playing a character who himself plays multiple characters. It’s a shameful oversight that the Emmys have given so little notice to one of the greatest shows of the past decade.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid’s Tale" 1/3
Claire Foy, "The Crown" 11/2
Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder" 25/1
Robin Wright, "House of Cards" 40/1
Evan Rachel Wood, "Westworld" 50/1
Keri Russell, "The Americans" 66/1

Who Will Win

Although Moss is a first-time nominee for "The Handmaid’s Tale," she’s a longtime Emmy favorite, having previously been nominated six times for "Mad Men" and once for "Top of the Lake," and voters may see this performance (a clearer lead role than her part on "Mad Men") as a reward for her years of excellent work. Davis is the only nominee in this category who’s won for this same performance before, but "How to Get Away With Murder" is no longer the cultural sensation that it was in its first season.

Who Should Win

Once again, "The Americans" deserves better than a couple of token nominations that have no chance for awards, and Russell’s performance is easily as good as Rhys’, if not better. She’s also been an under-appreciated TV performer going back to her days as the title character on the quietly brilliant Felicity.

This report is from Covers.com, a site also owned by Tribune. Follow Josh Bell on Twitter @signalbleed, Facebook (facebook.com/joshbellhateseverything) and at joshbellhateseverything.com.