IMO, the New Orleans Saints are my surprise team to make the playoffs this season. Defensive coordinator has a year under his belt, and I look for the Saints' defense, while certainly not going to lead their division in any particular category, will be improved based at least on knowing and being at least more familiar with what they will be trying to accomplish. They will be improved on defense.
Brees is not getting any younger and the offense while losing a couple of players that some think can't be replaced, I think just the opposite. They kept what they needed on offense and their new additions coupled with sound running backs, should give Brees the two dimensional attack they had the year they made it to the Super Bowl.
Seahawks are my choice to go backward. I can't see any remarkable changes forthcoming and I really don't think they feel they need to change anything. Of course I am not a fan of their Head Coach, who spends lots of time on "staying friends" with his players, and I simply do not think he will ever win a Super Bowl, no matter what team he coached. If history has proven one thing in my book, its that great college coaches, for whatever reason, simply do not win (Super Bowls in the NFL). Sorry Pete, USC could have been a lifetime job!