After last weekend’s disappointing 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, all signs point to the New England Patriots earning the No. 3 seed in the playoffs for the AFC as long as they win their final two games of the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. The Patriots’ offensive has been nearly impossible in the second half of the season and it’s even more impressive they’ve been able to put up as many points as they have without star pass-catching tight end Rob Gronkowski–which brings up an interesting debate.
Gronkowski returned to practice last week after breaking his forearm in the middle of November during a game against the Indianapolis Colts and while the tight end would love to return to the field as soon as possible–New England needs to be smart about their approach with this situation. The last thing the Patriots want to see happen is have Gronkowski return too soon and suffer another injury that would put him at risk for missing the playoffs.
New England’s offense is already one of the most dangerous in the league and having Gronkowski in the lineup gives them even more of an advantage when it comes to opposing defenses. Considering how close they were to winning the Super Bowl last February when Gronkowski wasn’t 100 percent, the Patriots need to strongly consider whether or not it’s worth playing their tight end over these final two games–especially when you consider their matchups against the Jaguars and Dolphins are winnable games.
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