The Week 6 matchup between the New England Patriots and the undefeated New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium may feature the two best tight ends in the NFL.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has emerged as Tom Brady‘s No. 1 target in the passing game over the last three years, is working his way back from offseason back surgery and is currently listed as questionable on the injury report.
Gronkowski is considered by many as the league’s best tight end, but Saints star Jimmy Graham has built a strong case for that distinction since the start of the 2011 season.
In a Week 5 win over the Chicago Bears, Graham became the second tight end in NFL history to tally four straight games of 100 or more yards receiving. He leads all pass-catchers with 593 yards receiving, and ranks second in receptions (37) and receiving touchdowns (six) going into Week 6.
Both of these players are incredibly difficult to cover because of their size, athleticism, ability to make catches in traffic and impressive route-running. In a one-on-one matchup, they are too strong for a defensive back to cover and too quick for a linebacker.
Even their best single-season performances are similar.
- Gronkowski: 90 receptions, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011
- Graham: 99 receptions, 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011