1. Georgia

The Bulldogs will be much better in 2007 because of improved offensive play and a decline from its two main Eastern division rivals. The offense should be mostly settled with seven starters returning helmed by Matthew Stafford and including a pair of senior running backs. Geogia has questions on its defensive line and linebackers, but its secondary should be strong.

2. Florida

Florida won’t win the division because of defense. The Gators lost 10 of 11 defensive starters. And championships are won with…yes, defense. Who could forget it was the Gator defense which kept the Gators in the game, when its at times misfiring offense was on the field. The offense returns Tebow who was 22-of-33 passing last season. But expect Tebow to make mistakes when exposed to more game situations.

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3. Tennessee

Tennessee could finish third or fourth, but the season will be a letdown after last year’s campaign. I’m not convinced QB Erik Ainge is going to have much help on offense. According to some familiar with Tennessee, the defensive line is causing serious concerns as well.

4. South Carolina

Can Spurrier get it done at South Carolina? Who knows. The Gamecocks were so close last season with heartbreaking losses, but a dramatic win over rival Clemson. If, and that is a big if with Steve Spurrier, IF the QB position is finally settled, the Gamecocks could be in a position to push for third in the division.

5. Kentucky

Kentucky’s defense was bad last year. But it returns 8 starters. That’s somewhat hopeful for an improvement. Offensively, Kentucky was spectacular amassing 3,500 passing yards. While Kentucky finished tied for third last season, expect a return to more Kentucky-like numbers in 2007.

6. Vanderbilt

Chris Nickson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. And he just might be the smartest. Of course, if he is so smart, why did he pick Vandy? Nickson was dominate as a high school quarterback, and has shown he can play in the SEC. Nickson threw for 2,085-yards and rushed for 694-yards last season. Nickson is a winner, and if Vandy catches a few breaks, the team could leap over Kentucky. NOTE: RollBamaRoll has an excellent look at Vandy from every possible angle.

I’ll post a summary of my Spring thoughts on the West Division in a couple of days.

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