The Patriots have dealt with a rash of injuries to key contributors this season, seemingly hindering their Super Bowl chances at every turn. Sunday proved no different.
Rob Gronkowski suffered what is reportedly a season-ending knee injury on Sunday, adding to the already long list of injuries the Patriots have had to face this season. The losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo earlier in the year were devastating, sure, but this one could be the straw to finally break the Patriots’ back.
The Patriots struggled through some tough times offensively earlier this season, running at what looked like half speed during the first six games, while Gronkowski recovered from multiple offseason surgeries. Since his return, though, it’s been an entirely different story.
In the six games without Gronkowski this season, the Patriots averaged about 21 points per game, and Tom Brady completed less than 57 percent of his passes. In the seven games with Gronkowski, however, not only did Brady boost his completion percentage back up above 64 percent, but the Patriots also averaged 32 points per game.
Now, Brady and the Patriots will have to get used to playing without the All-Pro tight end yet again. The offense, not including Gronkowski, has grown a great deal over the past eight weeks. Julian Edelman has emerged as a primary target, Shane Vereen returned to his role as a frustrating dual-threat playmaker out of the backfield and even rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have shown flashes when healthy. So, the Patriots aren’t exactly in peril, but their Super Bowl hopes could be in trouble.
The Patriots’ defensive struggles show no signs of slowing anytime soon, and Gronkowski’s loss will force the offense into yet another philosophical readjustment. Even with a first-round bye in the cards, New England’s postseason hopes took a major hit on Sunday. So, even amid all the injuries, can the Patriots still make it to the Super Bowl?