Rob Gronkowski Injury: Are Patriots Still Super Bowl Favorites?
The New England Patriots, sitting pretty atop the AFC East at 9-2, are understandable Super Bowl 51 favorites going into week 13.
Most betting sites – namely Bovada – has the Pats above every other NFL team, with +240 Super Bowl odds.
Their position might soon change.
Down Goes Gronk
Per reports, Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski has been dealing with a back ailment and it will require surgery:
Rob Gronkowski reportedly set to undergo surgery on Friday for a herniated disc; out indefinitely pic.twitter.com/vMt0bXzbEI
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 1, 2016
Gronkowski’s back injury was not initially believed to be serious, but it has been discovered that he has a herniated disc and will face an “indefinite” absence from the field.
That likely ends up costing Gronkowski the remainder of his 2016 season, and with this being his third known back surgery (underwent back surgeries in 2009 and 2013), it could even raise questions about his long-term health and career.
For now, the projected timeline is likely a minimum of eight weeks, which wouldn’t have Gronkowski able to return until the Super Bowl (if that), should the Patriots advance that far in the playoffs.
Already having brought a player back from injured reserve this year, the Pats would have to keep Gronkowski on their active roster in order to bring him back later in the year. It is currently unknown if the Patriots will do so.
The loss of Rob Gronkowski can’t be understated, as the star tight end has been dominant every since Tom Brady returned from a four-game suspension.
Not counting week 12 (when Gronkowski suffered his back injury), Gronkowski was on a tear with three touchdowns and three 100+ yard games since Brady’s return.
The Rob Gronkowski injury naturally greatly impacts New England’s passing game, and could either lean harder on LeGarrette Blount and the ground game or ask more out of it’s wide receiver corps.
The silver lining here is that New England is quite deep on offense. Not only do they have a starting caliber backup option at tight end in Martellus Bennett, but the team also has a slew of wide receivers and running backs it can lean on.
Dion Lewis recently returned from a devastating knee injury he sustained last year, and his role is likely to expand with Gronkowski being knocked out for the rest of the regular season.
The Patriots will also likely use more heavy wide receiver sets, which could demand more from rookie Malcolm Mitchell, as well as veteran receivers, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola.
Betting on New England
It’s fair to wonder if the Patriots will see their Super Bowl odds take a severe hit in the near future. The Dallas Cowboys (+400) and Seattle Seahawks (+750) could, in turn, see their title odds get a boost, as well.
This doesn’t have to be dead season for the Pats, however. Losing Gronkowski is massive, but New England has never been just about one player. After all, this is a team that started off at 3-1 without Brady and with Gronkowski hobbled to begin the year.
In fact, the Patriots have a history of finding success without Gronkowski, as two other times he’s missed at least five games in a season due to injury.
The real play here is betting on the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl. The AFC is strong, but the Patriots still have the coaching and offensive depth to move past the Raiders and others. It actually may be the NFC that New England has to worry about, as the Cowboys currently look like the best team in the league at 10-1 and Seattle actually beat the Patriots earlier this year.
Of course, depending on how drastically New England’s Super Bowl 51 odds shift due to the Rob Gronkowski injury, we still may want to make a play on the Patriots winning it all.
Ultimately, this is awful news for the NFL and for New England’s title hopes. However, it’s still very possible they get Gronkowski back in time for the Super Bowl if they make it that far, or that they still win it all even if he never returns.
Regardless, now isn’t a bad time to make a bet on someone other than the Patriots winning it all in 2016, and then bettors can reapproach Super Bowl betting once updated odds come out.
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