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NFL Playoff TV Blackouts Loom

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Sure, the National Football League looks very pretty on high-definition television and feels all warm and cozy from the comfort of a well-heated living room, but it's playoff time. Surely die-hard football fans will brave the cold to see their wild-card teams fight for a Super Bowl berth, right?

You'd think so. In a season the NFL kept only two home games off local television for lack of attendance -- compared with 15 games 2012, 16 in 2011 and 26 in 2010 -- the league's owners are perilously close to flushing all of that good will by keeping three of four playoff games off the air in their hometowns this weekend.

Fans in the Philadelphia metro area are the only homers ensured a spot on TV this weekend. The Eagles sold out their Wild Card matchup with the New Orleans Saints without much issue, but they're the only NFL team not scrambling to sell tickets today. The Indianapolis Colts have sold out 103 straight games, but still have roughly 5,000 tickets left for their matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, blacked out two games in 2012 and 10 games in the two years before, but didn't keep a single game off television en route to an AFC North title. While most teams would be ecstatic to not only win their division, but keep the hated Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers out of the playoffs altogether, the Bengals celebrated their feat by flirting with a blackout of their opening-round matchup with the San Diego Chargers -- a team the Bengals beat in early December. Even the suggestion that the game would be blacked out earned a sharp rebuke from Ohio's Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who's opposed blacking out games at stadiums paid for with public money.

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