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Eagles sell out almost a full week before other wild card hosts

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The Philadelphia Eagles have always had one of the most active fan bases in the NFL. Those fans will be out for the Eagles in full force on Jan. 4, as they host the New Orleans Saints in their first playoff game in three years. There was no question that Philadelphia would see the game on TV, since Lincoln Financial Field will be packed to full capacity -- although Green Bay, Indianapolis and Cincinnati couldn't say the same until Jan. 3.

The Eagles-Saints showdown was the only game in wild card weekend that didn't face the threat of a TV blackout. That threat finally faded on Jan. 3, as corporate sponsors in Green Bay, Indianapolis and Cincinnati purchased the last available tickets for the wild card game. Yet the fact that thousands of tickets were available for this long, even for postseason play, is not what the NFL needed to hear.

Perhaps since the Packers are hosting what could be the coldest game in NFL history on Jan. 5, it might explain why even they couldn't sell out immediately. But the Colts are playing in a dome and are postseason regulars, while the Bengals have barely hosted any playoff games in 20 years and haven't lost at home this season.

It shouldn't have taken this long for their fans to buy tickets -- and ideally, playoff games should have the toughest tickets in town, especially since the Super Bowl is so expensive. If the potential for a winter storm in this year's New Jersey-based Super Bowl scares some fans away, then the NFL will have a real problem.

For this weekend, the attendance problems of the Packers, Colts and Bengals stand out even more because the Eagles sold out all their tickets within minutes. Considering that Philadelphia was the last team to qualify for the postseason on Dec. 29, perhaps the excitement carried over into ticket sales later that night.

The Eagles faithful have been through a lot of misery in years past, yet they keep coming. They will come in gale force just two days after a massive winter storm, in hopes of the Eagles' first home playoff win since 2006.

Given that this may be the most passionate fan base of wild card weekend -- besides those who will brave below freezing weather in Green Bay -- the Eagles likely owe their fans for such loyalty.

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