As you may or may not know, the Bengals have sold out every game for the last five full seasons, dating all the way back to the Kansas City game in 2003. This also means the team hasn't been on a local TV blackout since the '03 season. A blackout would be very, very bad for the Bengals. Right now, the public at large just hates Mike Brown. If local TV blackouts became commonplace, people would just forget about him and his team. From the team's perspective, it's better to be hated than forgotten.
Obviously, the team is terrified of not selling out, and rightfully so. Some organizations would tackle this fear by realizing the only consistent, reliable draw is a winner. Once they had this realization, every possible effort to field said winner would be made. From clearing out the front office to an overhaul of the scouting staff to attracting the best coaches and players in the offseason, steps would be taken to produce a winner.
For the Bengals? A simpler solution: rig the schedule! And if you can't rig the schedule, sell the tickets in a convenient way!
A commonly known fact is that the Steelers and Browns are two guaranteed sellouts for the club. Not because Bengals fans want to see those games, but because of the relative proximity of Pittsburgh and Cleveland. That, coupled with the difficulty/expense of getting tickets in Pittsburgh/Cleveland, means coming to Cincinnati for a game is cheaper and easier for Steelers and Browns fans.
How did the Bengals take advantage of that fact? They packaged the two game ticket packs in such a way that they are guaranteed sellouts until late October at the earliest. Take a look at the first part of the home schedule:
- Denver (Sept 13) - packaged with Cleveland, guaranteed sellout
- Pittsburgh (Sept 27) - guaranteed sellout on its own
- Houston (Oct 18) - packaged with Pittsburgh, guaranteed sellout
- Chicago (Oct 25) - first possible non-sellout
The team is likely hoping that they are "competitive" enough to at least be in contention through that point. This way, the remaining two game packs and potentially single game tickets could get gobbled up by Bengals fans desperate for a winner. Don't be that guy.