Betting against Alabama at this point is difficult to do.
Oddsmakers know it. The general public knows it. The Crimson Tide are hard to beat more than once in a season, so that means an SEC title is almost certain.
So once again, we're entering 2018 with Alabama as the favorite at +125, just outdistancing Georgia at +300. Auburn seems to have a sign of life at +700, too.
It's silly to believe anyone will challenge Alabama or Georgia...or is it?
Mississippi State offers hope
If you're looking outside the big two of Alabama and Georgia, Mississippi State should be next on your list.
The Bulldogs return Nick Fitzgerald at the quarterback position, along with four offensive linemen. Defensively, that unit got better last year, and returns the majority of its starters this season.
What's nice about the Bulldogs is that new coach Joe Moorhead will offer a different look for SEC teams. And new looks are usually a boon to SEC teams, which still rely on the model of run first, and pass second.
The Bulldogs also offer some great value at +1000, and have a navigable schedule. Mississippi State gets Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M at home. They still have to travel to LSU and Alabama, but we'll take what we can get with the SEC.
If you're looking for some top-end value, without committing a complete sleeper pick to your SEC champion, then Mississippi State offers some hope.
If you're looking for incredible value out of the SEC, then take a gander at Missouri.
The Tigers were 1-5 at one point last season, before rattling off six straight wins. Missouri was one of the better teams down the stretch in 2017, and I don't see any reason why that momentum will stop this season.
The offense will be lights out again, with Drew Lock returning at the quarterback position alongisde an experienced offensive line. In the SEC, if you can consistently score, you can win games.
And the Tigers will be able to score better than any team in the conference.
Winning a conference title and making that +2000 bet a reality will reside with the defense. Up front, the Tigers are above average, with some question marks in the secondary.
It's important to note that Missouri gets Georgia early — on Sept. 22 — at home, and then the only game that will be a major upset would be on the road against Alabama two weeks later. Catching the Bulldogs off guard is a real possibility at that stage of the season.
This is a sneaky good pick as long as the defense holds up.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH