Will 2017 be a similar version of 2016?

Not exactly, according to Athlon Sports.

The long-time preseason publication has already dropped its way-too-early predictions for 2017, pitting Alabama and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. It would feature the master Nick Saban against his protege Kirby Smart.

My gut says the media at SEC Media Days will have the Crimson Tide against the Bulldogs in Atlanta. Of course, the media usually gets it wrong in their preseason predictions for the conference.

Alabama is Alabama, and the Tide once again isn’t rebuilding; it’s reloading, with the top tier talent in high school football. Freshman QB Jalen Hurts returns from an impressive first-year campaign, and we know the Tide’s defense will be elite and sickly athletic. Georgia also figures to have a loaded roster, as QB Jacob Eason returns along with RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. We expect the Bulldogs’ defense to be very good next season.

The SEC East’s most interesting team once again is in Gainesville, where despite not exactly having great quarterback play, the Gators are quietly back-to-back division champs. For the last two years, however, the Gators have been no match for the Tide in Atlanta, but if Jim McElwain can develop freshmen Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks, look out for Florida.

Here are Athlon’s early predictions for the 2017 season:

SEC East predictions
1. Georgia Bulldogs
2. Florida Gators
3. Tennessee Volunteers
4. Kentucky Wildcats
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
6. Vanderbilt Commodores
7. Missouri Tigers

SEC West predictions
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. LSU Tigers
3. Auburn Tigers
4. Texas A&M Aggies
5. Arkansas Razorbacks
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Both divisions don’t exactly have any surprises, and the publication looks like it expects Kentucky to be in the division race throughout the season.

Interestingly, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have really fallen in recent years compared to where they were a few years ago, on top of the college football world. However, young QBs Shea Patterson and Nick Fitzgerald could each make a splash next year.

Check out Athlon Sports full post on the predictions here.

How do you think Athlon’s early predictions look?