Despite recent struggles with the economy, the AFC North has been able to avoid the NFL's blackout policy the past several years. But that likely will change this weekend in Cincinnati.
Barring an unforeseen surge in ticket sales, the Bengals' 57-game sellout streak will come to an end Sunday when Cincinnati hosts the lowly Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium. The teams have a combined record of 3-15, and the Bengals are nowhere near selling out this game with the deadline looming at the end of the week.
That means Bengals fans will not be able to watch their team locally on television for the first time since 2003. Residents in Cincinnati have to find other means, such as listening to the game on the radio.
There were signs last year that blackouts could be an issue for the Bengals. Cincinnati was close to having its streak end several times last season during its playoff run. But Cincinnati took advantage of deadline extensions where the Bengals found sponsors and fans to buy up the tickets during a successful season.
With Cincinnati at 2-7, there's not nearly enough buzz this season to generate last-minute tickets sales, especially against a team like Buffalo (1-8). The Bengals have three additional home games in December against the New Orleans Saints (6-3), Cleveland Browns (3-6) and San Diego Chargers (4-5) that also are in danger of being blacked out in Cincinnati.