Earlier, we looked at which teams we thought were the most undervalued in ESPN's early 2017 Football Power Index.
The FPI isn't the be-all and end-all, but it does provide us with a more analytical view of the sport. This year, Alabama is the favorite to win the SEC. Last year, LSU was. This year, six SEC teams are ranked inside the top 25 of the FPI, with three in the top 10 -- Alabama, Auburn and LSU. All 14 make it inside the top 46.
Something has to give, right? Well, our SEC writers are here to tell you "Not so fast!" when it comes to the value of some of these teams.
Edward Aschoff: Auburn is the easy choice here. Count me as one of the folks who thinks these Tigers will be better than they were last year, but No. 5 good? No. Trying to get to 9.5 wins with a new offensive coordinator and some major defensive line losses seems awfully optimistic. Jarrett Stidham should be perfect for Gus Malzahn's offense, but high expectations have yielded poor results on the Plains for too long. And while we are talking about Tigers, I'm not exactly thrilled with seeing LSU at No. 6. So the loss of Les Miles and addition of Ed Orgeron, who essentially arrived at LSU as a journeyman defensive line coach, should keep these other Tigers close to the playoff conversation? Sorry, I'm just not buying it. I need to see better quarterback play and a season not based on the emotion of losing your head coach before I throw LSU near my top 10.
David Ching: Honestly all of the SEC teams in the top 20 who aren’t Alabama feel overvalued to me. But the one whose ranking gives me the most pause is Auburn. Maybe the Tigers belong at No. 5 now that Stidham is on board. Maybe they will improve upon last season’s step in the right direction. But this is a program that has lost three of its last four games, with new faces in several key positions. I think Auburn has a chance to be great, but the flop risk is awfully high for a program that is just 23-16 (11-13 SEC) since playing for the national title in 2013.
Greg Ostendorf: Credit Jim McElwain for winning the East in his first two seasons at Florida. That’s not easy to do. But let’s be honest about how this team won. It was the defense. The Gators were stingy. They forced turnovers. And now, a year after losing four players to the NFL, that same defense is losing nine starters from this past season. Not to mention, the architect of the group -- defensive coordinator Geoff Collins -- left to become the head coach at Temple. Maybe Feleipe Franks is the real deal and Florida finally will have an offense. Or maybe this is the year the Gators take a step back. With both Michigan and Florida State on the nonconference slate, I think it will be difficult for this team to reach the FPI's eight projected wins.
Alex Scarborough: With apologies to all the Auburn fans coming down from the euphoria of the Jarrett Stidham Show, I have to say I'm surprised with the Tigers checking in at No. 5 in the FPI. There's a lot to like about Malzahn's squad this year, but let's hold our horses a little bit. With a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterback and no Carl Lawson or Montravious Adams on defense, I want to see a couple of games before I jump aboard the hype train. I don't want another Jeremy Johnson 2015 situation to play out again. Saturday's game was just a glorified scrimmage, after all, and it wasn't even the first-team offense against the first-team defense at that. So while I'm comfortable saying that Auburn belongs in the top 25 to start the season, I'm going to hold off before I start calling the Tigers anything close to a top-five team. With Clemson out of conference, Georgia out of the East and an always-difficult divisional schedule, the road to 9.5 wins won't be easy.