- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Count New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis among the proponents for NFL playoff expansion. (And it sure seems like he'll get his wish with the league leaning toward adding a seventh team in each conference).
Loomis has long been an advocate for expanding the playoff field. If it were up to him, he'd probably go all the way up to eight teams per division.
The way Loomis sees it, more playoff teams is better for more organizations, coaches, players, fans and the league. Clearly, he isn't worried about the loss of byes for top seeds or the fear of a watered-down playing field.
“I've been in favor of it for a number of years,” Loomis said while discussing a variety of topics while attending Senior Bowl practices this week. “I just like the fact that we have more events. I think these playoff games are great events for the city, the communities that they're in. I think it's good for the organization. The first measure of success is making the playoffs. I personally don't like the byes. There's no byes in the NBA. That's just the way I feel about it.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Loomis doesn't feel as strongly about the idea of reseeding playoff teams based on overall record -- even though the Saints have had to go on the road as a wild-card team against a division winner with a worse record twice in the past four seasons.
In 2010, the 11-5 Saints had to play at 7-9 Seattle (and lost). This year, the 11-5 Saints played at 10-6 Philadelphia and won.
“I don't know. I'd have to put more thought into that,” Loomis said. “I've read some things. And yet, I personally think that winning a division should have some meaning to it, some significant meaning to it. Look, there's a pretty stark contrast when you have an 8-8 team versus a 12-4 or an 11-5 wild card. But what about the times when you have a division winner is 9-7 and the wild card is 10-6, so it's a one-game difference and maybe the division winner had a much tougher schedule? There are a lot of variables here. I tend to think that we've got a pretty good system now that has worked well.
“There has been the occasional anomaly and obviously [the Saints' situation was unusual in 2010]. But we could have answered that by going there and beating them. So they beat us fair and square.”
While we're on the subject of potential NFL rule tweaks, it's worth mentioning that Saints coach Sean Payton has long been an advocate for the college football system of replay review, where the decisions to review plays are done by officials upstairs instead of being based on coaches' challenges. Payton thinks it's more efficient and accurate.
And based on the reaction to the fumble that wasn't able to be challenged late in the San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks game this past weekend, it seems like a lot of public and media sentiment is shifting in the same direction -- though there has been no indication yet that the league will consider such a change.