No Rob Gronkowski, no problem.
When the All-Pro tight end’s one-game suspension for a dirty hit was handed down earlier this week, some fans thought that Monday night’s meeting against the Miami Dolphins could turn into a trap game for New England. But the numbers would suggest otherwise.
Let’s start with the hard facts. The Patriots have played 25 games without Rob Gronkowski in his seven-year career so far, and in those games New England has a 20-5 record. The last time they lost a game when Gronkowski wasn’t on the field was Week 13 of the 2015 season when they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles. While Tom Brady’s passing numbers do dip slightly without Gronkowski, he still completes over 60 percent of his passes with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3 to 1.
The Patriots would be helped greatly by the return of wide receiver Chris Hogan, who is now practicing for the first time in over a month. And if running backs Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis continue their streak of hot play this week, the Patriots will be tough to beat.
Las Vegas seems to feel the same way. New England is currently favored by 11 points over the Dolphins this week, and the Patriots odds for the season have only gotten better. After starting out the year with 6-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots now hold 2-to-1 odds. They also have more than a 99 percent chance to win the AFC East, which they can clinch with a win over the Dolphins on Monday night.
So Patriots fans can consider themselves lucky that the team is structured in such a way that even the temporary loss of the best tight end in the NFL doesn’t seem to hurt them in the slightest, unlike nearly every other team in the league.