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Attendance woes haunt NFL in Week 12

Suffice it to say, the NFL will not be setting any attendance records on Sunday. Of the eight games taking place in Week 12's early time slot, at least half are being played in front of sparse crowds.

Both Cincinnati's home game against Oakland -- Carson Palmer's return to play his old team -- and the Buccaneers' key showdown with Atlanta were blacked out locally. And the attendances at those games may be in the upper echelon for the 1 p.m. ET games.

The dire situation in Kansas City, courtesy of SBNation's Arrowhead Pride:

Last week, Chiefs fans enacted their own personal "Blackout" -- frustrated fans wore black to protest the direction of the franchise. Despite the empty seats in K.C., the team has not had a TV blackout since 1991, and Sunday's game kept that streak going despite the thousands of unused tickets.

Things were not much better in Miami Sunday, according to a photo tweeted by the AP's Tim Reynolds:

That game also aired on local TV -- the NFL's new blackout policy requires teams to have 85 percent of non-premium tickets sold at least 72 hours before kickoff, with leeway sometimes provided in the form of an extension on that deadline.

The Jaguars' contest against Tennessee also made it onto the airwaves in Jacksonville, despite a failure to fill the stadium (the team announced the crowd at 63,000 -- 10K shy of capacity; the actual number appeared to be less than that):

Greer Stadium, for the record, is where Nashville's Triple-A baseball club plays its home games.

Cincinnati, by comparison, had a decent turnout (photo via Joe Reedy on Twitter):

San Diego's game against Baltimore later on Sunday also will be blacked out, and the number of no-shows around the league continues to be a growing problem for the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell talked earlier this month about the challenge that improved TV coverage has created:

“One of our biggest challenges in the league is the experience at home,” Goodell told the fan group just before the Falcons-Cowboys game.

And “HD is only going to get better,” he said.

The attendance issues always become more prevalent late in the season, as the weather worsens and teams drop from playoff contention. Given that there are still five weeks remaining in the regular season, though, this Sunday's troubling showing from the fans might be just the beginning.

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