Bengals, Colts and Packers avoid wild-card weekend blackout
It took longer than the NFL may have liked, but it now appears that the first playoff weekend will occur sans TV blackouts.
Colts owner Jim Irsay announced Friday on Twitter that the final 1,200 tickets available for Saturday's Kansas City vs. Indianapolis postseason contest had been purchased by Meijer, a supermarket chain, which planned to donate those tickets to military families.
The Colts needed two extensions from the NFL to avoid the local (75-mile radius) TV blackout that comes as penalty for not selling out a game. That window usually closes 72 hours prior to kickoff -- 4:35 p.m. ET Wednesday, in this case -- but the Colts requested that deadline be moved back first to Thursday, then to Friday afternoon.
The Bengals, who host San Diego on Sunday afternoon, also appear to be nearing a sellout thanks to help from the business sector. Kroger, another multi-state supermarket chain, purchased "a large quantity of tickets" for the playoff game, also with the intent of providing those tickets to military families.
Cincinnati originally had until 1 p.m. ET Thursday to lock in a sellout, then asked for an extension as well. The team announced via Twitter prior to that first deadline that 3,500 tickets remained for Sunday's game but deleted the tweet later. After Kroger's purchase was complete, the Bengals were quick to point out that some tickets still remained available.
(Update, 3 p.m. ET: The Bengals sold the last of their tickets for Sunday's game, meaning all of this weekend's action will avoid being blacked out.)
The last game of wild-card weekend, San Francisco at Green Bay, is also within striking distance of a sellout -- despite wind-chill temperatures expected to dip near minus-30 around kickoff late Sunday afternoon. The Packers announced Thursday that 3,000 tickets were left for that contest, then dropped that estimated number down to about 1,000 on Friday. Like both the Colts and Bengals, the Packers received an extension to reach a sellout.
(Update, 12:30 p.m. ET: The Packers have announced their game has sold out, thus ensuring it will not be blacked out.)
Philadelphia, the fourth wild-card weekend host, sold out its game vs. New Orleans earlier this week.
The NFL seems set to have a much easier go of things for the divisional round. The Seahawks' Round 2 game against a yet-to-be-determined opponent sold out in 26 minutes Tuesday; Carolina's upcoming home game, meanwhile, was deemed a sellout just three minutes after tickets hit the market Wednesday. THE PLAYBOOK: Previewing all four NFL wild-card weekend matchups