The Emmys are stacking up as a family affair — crime family, that is.
"The Sopranos" (search) — which still hasn't won the award for Best Drama five years after its world-stopping debut — is seen as a virtual shoo-in for Sunday night's Emmy award.
And all they had to do was kill off one of the show's most popular characters — Adrianna.
"We're giving 'The Sopranos' 7-5 odds to win [as Best Drama]," says Tom O'Neil, author of the "The Emmys" and oddsmakers for goldderby.com.
He is at a loss to explain why the HBO mob opera has not been recognized for what most people inside and outside the TV business believe is the best show of its time. "The West Wing" (search) has been named TV's best drama for fours years in a row.
"The overall concept of ["The Sopranos"] is so despicable to snobs in Beverly Hills," O'Neil told The Post. "There's notorious snobbism in any voting."
This year, in addition to "Sopranos" stars James Gandolfini (search) and Edie Falco getting their usual nominations for best actor and actress, "Sopranos" co-stars Michael Imperioli (search) (Christopher), Drea de Matteo (search) (Adriana) and Steve Buscemi (search) (Tony Blundetto) are also nominated for supporting actor/actress Emmys.
The episode in which Adriana was whacked was among the most riveting and memorable in "Sopranos" history.
"Drea de Matteo is a lock to win," O'Neil says. "She's done amazing work, and she can't lose.
"The question is that the two episodes she submitted were the same ones Michael Imperioli submitted, where Christopher beats up Adriana twice. Imperioli is fantastic, but if he's too unsympathetic, then Buscemi wins.
"Either way, 'The Sopranos' will win those two categories."
For the first time in years, Gandolfini and Falco may not be overwhelming factors in their catagories.
"Gandolfini literally whacked himself this year by handing in a weak episode for [Emmy] consideration," says O'Neil, referring to the "Where's Johnny?" episode which laid bare Uncle Junior's advancing Alzheimer's.
"Gandolfini's performance on Edie Falco's tape is much better than the performance on his own tape," O'Neil says.
O'Neil says the best dramatic performance among the lead actors/actresses was given by "Alias" star Jennifer Garner (search) — but that could work against her, he says.
"In the episode she submitted, she's trying to spring her dad from jail and the fireworks display is fantastic," he says.
"She has five or six 'money' scenes and it's clearly the most dynamic performance of all the lead actress submissions.
"But we know the academy doesn't take action stars seriously as actors — and if that trend continues, Garner's out and Falco's in as the winner."
O'Neil believes that "Without A Trace" star Anthony LaPaglia (search) will dethrone Gandolfini as Best Dramatic Actor.
"The clip [LaPaglia] submitted was from an episode called 'Copycat,' in which he recalls his mother's suicide," O'Neil says. "It's very powerful and towers over the four other submissions in that category."
And O'Neil says the night's biggest moment will come when "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker (search) walks away with an Emmy as Best Actress in a Comedy.
"She's lost five times because she has 'Susan Lucci Disease,'" says O'Neil, referring to the "All My Children" star who went years before finally winning a Daytime Emmy.