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There are many outlets out there that are picking LSU as the conference champion, but Alabama has the edge on this list. There are so many key players returning that outweigh the losses of Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus.
For starters, Trent Richardson is a better running back than Ingram, and he finally gets the position to himself to prove it.
McElroy will be tough to replace, but it's Nick Saban we're talking about here. It was hard to replace John Parker Wilson back when McElroy took over. A.J. McCarron is the likely successor, but Phillip Sims showed a lot of promise during the spring game; Sims is a highly-touted redshirt freshman who is looking to claim the position.
The offensive line, led by Barrett Jones and William Vlachos, will be a strong unit again for the Tide. D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack and Aaron Douglas round out the other positions.
Jones is going to be very hard to replace, but Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks have big-play ability. Ohio State transfer Duron Carter should also provide some consistency to the position.
The defense will need to replace Dareus, but Josh Chapman and Ed Stinson are emerging stars. Damion Square will also look to have a break-out season.
The linebackers are deep as well as lethal. Dont'a Hightower is one of the better linebackers in the country. Courtney Upshaw, Jerrell Harris and Nico Johnson are all large linebackers with plenty of experience to form arguably the best linebacking corps in the country.
Mark Barron returned for his senior season, and the strong safety is the best safety in the country. He will be leading a secondary full of playmakers, particularly at the corner positions. Dre Kirkpatrick is a large corner who can cover as well as play against the run. DeMarcus Milliner will start opposite Kirkpatrick.
This team has a couple question marks, but Saban likely has the answers. If the quarterback transition runs smoothly, this offense is going to be hard to stop. The defense was supposed to be a weakness last season, but it turned into a major strength. Now it might be the best unit in the country.
Alabama isn't just thinking of an SEC title, they are thinking of another National Championship, and they have all the makings for it.
Don't Sleep On: LSU
Why am I not picking a team from the SEC East? Because whoever comes out of the West will surely win the SEC championship. Not to take anything away from South Carolina or possibly Georgia, but LSU, Alabama and Auburn are all teams that are good enough to win the SEC.
LSU has a lot coming back from a team that won 11 games, including a win over Alabama in 2010.
Jordan Jefferson will again be the quarterback, but he will be pushed by Zach Mettenberger, a transfer from Georgia.
Stevan Ridley left for the NFL, leaving the running back slot wide open; Spencer Ware and Michael Ford will do their best to fill the void.
Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle will be the go-to guys in the receiving corps. Both former five-star prospects will be expected to emerge as playmakers. The offensive line loses Joseph Barksdale to graduation, but P.J. Lonergan, T-Bob Hebert and Will Blackwell are all back to form a dominating offensive line.
Defensively, the Tigers lose arguably the best defensive player in the country from last year, Patrick Peterson, but that doesn't mean the secondary is going to struggle. Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu have excellent cover skills.
The defensive line will need to replace Drake Nevis, but true freshman Anthony Johnson might be able to pick up where Nevis left off. The linebacking corps will be the biggest question mark after losing Kelvin Shappard to the NFL. Kevin Minter will likely be the man in the middle, while Karnell Hatcher and Ryan Baker will be on the outsides.
This LSU team has plenty of potential as well as question marks, but Les Miles will surely be putting them in position to win games.
If Jordan Jefferson can finally take over this offense, they will be very hard to stop. The defense will need to replace some key positions, but the talent on this depth chart alone is enough to fill those gaps.
LSU will play Alabama on Nov. 5, and the winner of that game will most likely win the conference.