Ordinarily, a December game between one team that leads its division and another team that leads the race for the final wild-card spot would sell out easily. But that’s not the case in Cincinnati on Sunday.
The Texans-Bengals game is so far away from being a sellout that the Bengals didn’t even wait until the deadline to announce that the game will be blacked out on local television.
That has to be disappointing to the Bengals, whose fans haven’t yet bought into the team, even though they’re 7-5 and currently own the tiebreaker over the other 7-5 AFC teams for the final wild-card spot. With the Texans at 9-3 and leading the AFC South, this game could be a playoff preview.
Nine of the Bengals’ last 10 games have been blacked out, and Paul Brown Stadium has only been about three-quarters full on average this season. The Bengals look like a young team on the rise, but they have a long way to go to get their local fans on board.