Updated: 12:35 p.m.
After announcing their 52nd straight sellout, the Bengals plan to put playoff tickets on sale at 6 p.m. Saturday through Ticketmaster. Fans may call 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com. Tickets are sold as a two-game package and refunds are available for any games not played.
With the Bengals needing a win Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium against the Chiefs to clinch the AFC North title and a home playoff game the weekend of Jan. 9-10, the club announced the game has been sold out in time to be televised live on Channel 12 in Cincinnati, Channel 7 in Dayton, Ohio, and Channel 27 in Lexington, Ky.
In a press release the Bengals credited Channel 12 and Motorola for helping secure a sellout in the final PBS regular-season game of the season that makes it six straight years of a sold-out home slate. But even though it is sold out, there are still tickets available through Ticketmaster by calling 800-745-3000 or clicking here. If tickets remain available on Sunday, they will be available at the PBS ticket windows.
The Bengals are grinding for the third seed with New England to see who is going to play the No. 6 seed in two weeks if the Bengals can win the division. At the moment, they are tied with the Pats at 9-5 but cbssportsline.com gives New England the tiebreaker because of strength of victory (the record of teams they beat). If the season were over, the Bengals would be the fourth seed and host AFC North rival and No. 5 Baltimore while No. 6 seed Denver goes to New England.
But there is a lot of ball left. The first tiebreaker is conference record and both the Bengals and Pats are 6-4. After Cincinnati hosts the Chiefs, the Bengals go to the 7-7 Jets. The Pats host 7-7 Jacksonville on Sunday and then go to Houston.
But it may come down to games against common opponents, the second tiebreaker ahead of strength of victory. By the end of the season, the Bengals and Pats will have each played the Ravens, Broncos, Jets and Texans. As of now, the Bengals are 2-2 against those teams with the Jets still waiting. The Pats are 2-2 with the Texans waiting.
The Chiefs began the Bengals franchise-record sellout streak on Nov. 16, 2003 when they brought a 9-0 record into PBS and left with a 24-19 loss.
That was 102 games and six years ago and only three Bengals are left that played in that game: Kicker Shayne Graham, fullback Jeremi Johnson, and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. It was quarterback Carson Palmer's rookie year but he didn't take a snap until the next season.
Graham and Johnson accounted for six points each that day and Johnson's acrobatic run-and-catch of a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jon Kitna put the Bengals up for good at 10-6 with 5:04 left in the third quarter. With the Bengals forging a tie for the AFC North that day at 5-5, it is seen as one of the watershed games in Lewis' seven seasons as head coach that began that season at 1-4.
The Bengals have no defensive players left from that day on their unit ranked fifth in the league. They line up this Sunday with nine homegrown starters they either drafted or signed starting the following year. Two starters are free agents (middle linebacker Dhani Jones and tackle Tank Johnson) and if safety Chris Crocker (ankle) doesn't play then undrafted rookie Tom Nelson makes his second straight start.
Starting ends Robert Geathers arrived in the fourth round in '04 and Jon Fanene in the seventh round in '05. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph came in the first round in '06 and the other cornerback, Leon Hall, came in the first round the next year. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe came at the opposite end of the '07 draft in the seventh round. WILL linebacker Keith Rivers was a first-rounder in '08 and SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga was a second-rounder this year. Tackle Domata Peko, a fourth-rounder in '06, may not play with a knee injury, and is backed up by Pat Sims, a third-rounder in '08.