OK, maybe the headline is a tad misleading. But trust me, it isn't as much of an attempt to grab eyeballs as you think.
Technically, it is true. The Bengals' front office and ticket office have been thinking about the playoffs in recent days, specifically the possibility that their team may end up hosting one or more playoff games. In the coming days, the postseason will certainly be on the minds of season-ticket holders, too. That's if it isn't already.
As you'll read in the first link below, the Bengals on Tuesday released a statement to media and their season-ticket holders, outlining specifics for the process of paying for postseason tickets, and being compensated or reimbursed for those that don't get used in case the Bengals only advance so far.
Why, with six weeks left on the regular-season schedule, are the Bengals already talking about the playoffs?
"Given where the team stands [in the division], the process needs to start now, and we want to accommodate our season-ticket holders first," executive vice president Katie Blackburn said. "Once we have met their needs, we will work to make tickets available to other fans."
In case you're wondering, this isn't some Bengals-specific move to get the ball rolling on the postseason so early. If they haven't already, other teams in the coming days will begin making the same pitches to their season-ticket holders if they believe there is a chance their teams could be hosting games in January. Cincinnati, with a lead of 2 1/2 games over the rest of the AFC North ahead of this week's bye, is in a comfortable enough position to begin believing a home playoff game is a possibility. If that happens, the Bengals stand a good chance of advancing multiple rounds. At Paul Brown Stadium this season, they are 5-0. Twice they have scored more than 40 points in games at home.
As we get into Thursday's Morning Stripes, we start with a little more on the postseason ticket preparations:
Specifically, we turn to the Dayton Daily News' Jay Morrison, who has a blog outlining the message the Bengals sent to fans and media Tuesday. Again, with what will be a faster six weeks than any of us can imagine, the postseason will soon be upon us. The Bengals want to be well-prepared for when the time comes to hand out their postseason packages.
Sticking with the Bengals and their relationship with the city of Cincinnati and the rest of Hamilton County, Ohio, we turn next to FOX affiliate WXIX. The Southwest Ohio-based television station has this story on the Bengals' stadium deal with the county and its taxpayers. According to the station, some experts call the deal one of the worst struck by a local government. What's at stake with the stadium now, 13 years after it was built, is the fact that the Bengals are looking to renovate their scoreboards. They haven't been updated since the facility was first built, and their quality lags well behind those at other NFL venues. Per the deal, the Bengals are actually behind on getting new scoreboards put in, and whether the county wants to help pay for them or not, they have to go up. The station has found a slight hitch, though. According to one stadium official, some funds that were to be used for stadium upgrades since 2008 have been directed elsewhere. The official wasn't too happy about that. Interesting story to keep an eye on in the coming months.
One slightly different Bengals-Cincinnati story that also comes from FOX19 has to do with the team's canned food drive during Sunday's home game against the Browns. The Bengals say fans donated 7,391 pounds of food and nearly $19,600 to a local foodbank. About 65,000 meals can be made off that alone during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Moving out west, we go to the Contra Costa Times. The Bay Area newspaper has a story on the fatal highway accident earlier this week that killed former Bengals linebacker Thomas Howard and another motorist. Investigators believe Howard's reckless driving may have precipitated the events that led to the accident. Toxicology reports won't come back for about two months, so it's unclear whether alcohol was involved, but witness statements, as well as other investigative work has shown that Howard's car was driving recklessly, investigators said. His BMW reached speeds upward of 100 mph before he unsuccessfully tried to swerve around a semi truck. When the car clipped the truck, it went airborne and flipped multiple times into the opposite side of traffic. That's where the car made contact with another, killing that driver, as well.
Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson writes that a memorial service for the 30-year-old Howard has been set for Friday in Oakland. Meanwhile, Frank Chamberlin, another former Bengal, will have his life celebrated in a mass Thursday in New Jersey. Chamberlin, 35, died Sunday after a long bout with brain cancer.