This may anger a few readers, but Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M and two-time defending division champion Mizzou will not win the SEC Championship in 2015.

I’m not sure about Ole Miss, a team returning its entire offensive line and the bulk of an elite defense, but the Rebels have just missed my ‘5 that survive’ category.

There’s too many major questions concerning the other squads though, Achilles Heels guaranteed to rupture once the season’s treacherous schedule patch strikes in October. How could Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs catch lightning in a bottle and match last year’s heroics in Starkville? When will the late-season magic evaporate for Gary Pinkel? Can the Razorbacks — with substantial pass rushing losses — and Aggies play well enough on defense to hang in the West?

According to the early Vegas line at 5Dimes, Alabama’s the 2015 preseason SEC favorite followed by Auburn and Georgia. My order of finish is a bit different (and will likely change by mid-August when predictions really mean something):

5. Tennessee: In a wide open Eastern Division in 2015, why not the Vols? They have a quarterback, a loaded roster of skill players and defensively Derek Barnett and Curt Maggitt are among the SEC’s best at getting after the passer. There is the Butch Jones factor and his career ineptitude against nationally-ranked teams (yeah, he’s 1-16). Tennessee could face as many as five ranked teams in 2015. The fourth Saturday in October is the program’s most important game and beating the Gators — who won’t be strong under Jim McElwain in Year 1 — for the first time in 11 seasons is a necessity as far as the division is concerned. A playmaker like Joshua Dobbs gives Tennessee a chance to be elite and if the Vols can avoid the injury bug, a stretch run is likely.

4. LSU: Ongoing quarterback issues and how this defense will look under Kevin Steele is concerning, but it’s LSU, a nationally-relevant programs for two decades which consistently out-recruits primary rivals for big-time talent. Armed with Leonard Fournette, eventual NFL talent in the secondary and a dominant offensive line, the Tigers won’t steer away from their ground-and-pound mentality which has worked so well under Les Miles. Last season was LSU’s first with single-digit wins since 2009, but it was more of an exception than the rule. The schedule’s treacherous (par the course in the West), but there’s a chance the Tigers could head into the Alabama game 8-0 coming off a bye. If LSU tops Auburn in Week 3, it’ll happen.

3. Alabama: Go ahead and pencil in Nick Saban’s team with 10 wins. There’s too much talent in Tuscaloosa not to compete for a spot in Atlanta this season. There aren’t many teams who can replace All-Americans on both sides of the football and still be an elite competitor, but the Crimson Tide manage to do it year after year. Don’t put too much stock into Alabama’s controversy at quarterback, guaranteed to be a first-year starter. Most of us had the same reservations last season with Blake Sims and we know how that turned out (thanks to Lane Kiffin fine-tuning his offense and putting the fifth-year senior in prime position to succeed). Players like Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson and Derrick Henry give this team moxie, and you know the fire is burning white-hot after last season’s semifinal disappointment.

2. Auburn: I have no qualms projecting that Will Muschamp’s presence on the Auburn sideline will improve the Tigers’ defense substantially this fall, so much so this team will be one of the league’s strongest on both sides of the ball. Much has been made about departing playmakers on offense, but Auburn reloads. Jovon Robinson is a strong, physical back capable of 1,000 yards in Gus Malzahn’s scheme and he’ll be pushed by Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber. When the Tigers are dominant, they win the line of scrimmage and there’s a good chance Auburn can do that this season with Carl Lawson, DaVonte Lambert, Montravius Adams and newcomer Byron Cowart in the trenches. He’s already shown he can play, but if Jeremy Johnson’s the real deal and gives this offense a new, consistent dimension through the air, the Iron Bowl will likely decide the West this fall.

1. Georgia: The Bulldogs have been a classic underachiever under Mark Richt, we get that. But is this the year it all comes together in Athens? Outside of a mid-November trip to Auburn, all of the Bulldogs’ toughest games are at home this season (until Tennessee ends a five-year skid vs. Georgia, we’re considering the two teams’ Oct. 10 meeting favorable for the Bulldogs) and as we all know, favorable schedules, perhaps more so than quarterback play, is the singlemost important factor during runs to the SEC Championship Game. Equipped with one of college football’s premiere ballcarriers in Nick Chubb and a defense that could be light years better in Year 2 under Jeremy Pruitt, the talent is there for the Bulldogs to make noise as a Playoff contender. If Georgia gets past South Carolina and Alabama unscathed prior to the contest at Tennessee, the Bulldogs will be in control of their own destiny in the division.