The Cincinnati Bengals have had a very good season, winning their third division championship since 1990. They're 10-5 with a chance to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
As division winners, they're guaranteed to play their first playoff game at home. The Bengals fans either haven't realized that or are pretty unimpressed with the team's chances.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that "well over 10,000" tickets remain for that first playoff game. Paul Brown Stadium holds a little more than 65,000 fans, so there's still a pretty large chunk of the seats that remain unsold. Cincinnati sold out Sunday's Week 17 finale against Baltimore on Thursday.
According to #Bengals, “well over 10,000 tickets” remain for the first home playoff game
— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) December 26, 2013
Reedy points out the Bengals have sold out 10 in a row and 15 of their last 17. Maybe Bengals fans are waiting to see what date or time Cincinnati will play before buying tickets. And the game is likely to sell it out in the next week (or two, if the Bengals get the bye), and if they don't sell it out the team or a local business would probably step up and buy the remaining seats. The blackout rules, in which the game can't be broadcast in the local market if it's not sold out, are still in effect for playoff games, and the Bengals and city of Cincinnati don't want to suffer that embarrassment. Reedy tweeted that an Oilers at Bills playoff game at the end of the 1993 season and a Ravens at Dolphins playoff game at the end of the 2001 season were both blacked out.
Still, it's pretty surprising that so many tickets are still available for a playoff game. That isn't the case in most NFL cities.
The Bengals are one of the best teams in the AFC, and injury issues in Denver and New England make the conference race wide open. The Bengals are absolutely capable of doing what the Ravens did last year, and coming out of nowhere to make a run to the Super Bowl.
The fans will probably get behind the idea of the Bengals as Super Bowl contender. It's just taking them some time.
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