2016 SEC Expert Picks: Overrated, underrated, predicted order of finish

The CBS Sports college football staff is laying it all on the line ahead of the season, calling out each of our most overrated and underrated teams, making a bold prediction and predicting the order of finish for each of the Southeastern Conference's divisions.

Let's take a look. You can also check out our SEC superlatives and awards.


Most overrated team

Tennessee: The Vols might be really good this season. They might win the SEC East. These things definitely fall within the realm of possibility. It's just, this is the same Tennessee team that hasn't beaten Florida since 2004 and hasn't won against Georgia in Athens since 2006. It's also 3-13 against ranked teams under Butch Jones, so while I see the potential, I'm still approaching with caution. -- Tom Fornelli (In agreement: Jon Solomon, Jerry Palm)

Ole Miss: This is a team that lost to Florida and Memphis last year, though its signature win came in a weird game against the eventual national champions. The Rebels lost three first-round draft picks and five NFL Draft picks overall. Even with Chad Kelly back at quarterback, I anticipate Ole Miss taking a bit of a step back in 2016. -- Robby Kalland (In agreement: Chip Patterson, Ben Kercheval)

Florida: The Gators' best defender, Jalen Tabor, is suspended for the first game. The quarterback is a former Alabama walk-on (Luke Del Rio) who couldn't win the starting job at Oregon State. McElwain did it in 2015 with Elmer's Glue and bailing wire, especially offensively. Florida takes a step down this season in a suddenly resurgent SEC East. -- Dennis Dodd


Most underrated team

Texas A&M: Making the same mistakes over and over is an example of what can happen when the stresses of this complex world force us to retreat into our toddler brain. What results is impulsiveness, poor judgment, self-obsession and picking Texas A&M as a sleeper in the SEC West. I'm too blinded by Christian Kirk's speed, a Myles Garrett-Daylon Mack-Daeshon Hall line and the dream of a dominant Ricky Seals-Jones. -- Chip Patterson (In agreement: Tom Fornelli, Robby Kalland, Ben Kercheval)

Ole Miss: There are two humans walking the sidelines who have beaten Nick Saban in consecutive games, and Hugh Freeze is one of the them. The Rebels get Alabama at home. Chad Kelly is arguably the SEC's best quarterback. Watch tight end Evan Engram; he's a potential All-American. -- Dennis Dodd

Vanderbilt: Don't sleep on Vanderbilt. Seriously. OK, Vandy's offense was a mess in 2015, but the defense was legit and should be again with a strong linebacker group. This is the year Derek Mason gets to a bowl and the Commodores finish ahead of Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky in the East. -- Jon Solomon

LSU: All of the talk in the SEC West is about Alabama, and the Tide has earned that, but LSU could be in a position to dethrone them. The Tigers, as always, appear to be a quarterback away from greatness. If Brandon Harris steps up, the Tigers may be able to take advantage of a favorable schedule that brings Bama and Ole Miss to Baton Rouge. -- Jerry Palm


Conference champion

Alabama: At this juncture, do we dare pick anyone else? Alabama is a machine and it's not misfiring at all. Four championships in seven years. Hoards of NFL-caliber players. An all-time great coach. We're in the middle of a dynasty and coach Nick Saban, though he has to be nearing retirement, is showing no signs of slowing down. If there's any reason for hesitation, it's that preseason SEC media polls don't have a great track record with predicting conference champs. -- Ben Kercheval (In agreement: Dennis Dodd, Jon Solomon, Jerry Palm, Robby Kalland)

LSU: Here's to thinking we could have another wacky/weird year in the SEC West. Les Miles as probably requires a few things, most notably a win against Alabama in Death Valley on Nov. 5. Alabama has carried the banner for the league despite losing to Ole Miss each of the last two seasons, so at some point that margin for error (remember Ole Miss could have been in the SEC title game if not for Arkansas' fourth-down conversion) has to catch the Tide. -- Chip Patterson


Bold SEC prediction

Dennis Dodd: Two SEC teams will qualify for the College Football Playoff -- Alabama and LSU.

Jon Solomon: Despite all of the hype, Tennessee will lose just the right number of games to fall short of the SEC East title. I'll believe in the Vols when I see it.

Jerry Palm: Alabama will win its fourth national championship in six years, and like the other three, do so with one loss.

Tom Fornelli: It won't win the division, but Texas A&M will beat both Alabama and LSU this season.

Chip Patterson: Georgia will win the SEC East.

Robby Kalland: Texas A&M will finish above Ole Miss in the West standings.

Ben Kercheval: A three-loss team will win the SEC East.


Predicted order of finish


Dodd Solomon Palm Fornelli Kalland Kercheval Patterson
East Division
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
West Division
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
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