Losing Gronk would change everything for the Patriots (in the playoffs).
The New England Patriots perfect season came to an end with a 30-24 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday night. The bigger storyline coming out of the game was a potential serious knee injury to star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
An MRI Monday confirmed that Gronk has a bruised his right knee and no tears. He is not expected to play in Week 13 against the Eagles, is considered week to week and should return during the regular season. That is great news for Pats fans but what if the injury to Gronkowski lingers or the tight end gets hurt again? What could the possible loss of Gronk mean to the Patriots chances of winning back-to-back Super Bowls?
New England has lost Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Brandon LaFell for varying lengths of time but all of those injuries would pale in comparison to the loss of Gronkowski. The All-Pro tight end has one of the highest point impacts of any non-quarterback in the NFL.
Of course that comes with a caveat. The defending champs would miss Gronk but only in the postseason. Over the final five games (23rd in strength of schedule) of the regular season, New England would be greater than 60 percent likely to win each game and by more than a touchdown on average even without the starting tight end playing. With ten wins already under their belt, the Pats are 100 percent likely to make the playoffs if Gronk plays or not.
The power of the Gronk is felt in the playoffs when the competition increases. For example, in the most likely Super Bowl (Arizona vs. New England) Gronkowski is worth 1.6 points. That might not sound like much, but it is enough to make the Patriots the most likely team to win the Super Bowl (21.5 percent). If the third highest scoring tight end of all-time were to be unavailable during the Patriots playoff run, New England's chance of repeating drops to 17.3 percent (3rd best behind Arizona and Carolina).
If the Patriots want to win the Super Bowl, it is best to rest Gronk now and have him healthy for the playoffs.