No Gronk. No problem. The Patriots are still going to the Super Bowl.And you know what that means:
Everybody loves Rob Gronkowski. The big galoot (sorry, Curt Schilling! - ed.) is tons of fun, on and off the football field. We root for his full recovery from a third back surgery and hope there are more rumbling, smashmouth/stiff-arm touchdowns and spiked footballs in his Patriot future.
But everybody needs to calm down regarding what this does to the Patriots’ chances. Of course the Patriots are better with Gronk than without him (don’t underestimate Gronkowski’s contribution to the running game), but take a good look around the AFC. Who is better than the Gronk-less Patriots? Nobody, that’s who. Even without one of the greatest tight ends of all time, the Patriots still have a clean, clear path to Super Bowl LI in Houston in February.
It’s clear by now that there are no dominant teams in the NFL. The 11-1 Cowboys are the flavor of the month and it’s nice to see the Oakland Raiders make some noise on the left coast. But the Patriots’ schedule this year — clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right — tells you everything you need to know about where this is heading. After late-November road wins against the hideous 49ers and Jets, the Patriots return home Sunday to say hello to the 4-7 Los Angeles Rams — the sui generis of Tomato Cans (Bill Belichick has beaten Rams coach Jeff Fisher by an aggregate 104-7 in their last two meetings).
New England will be 10-2 after Sunday’s layup and should finish no worse than 13-3.How'd Shank's prediction work out last week? Anybody?
Just a reminder - Shank isn't exactly writing this column because any of the things mentioned about the Patriots are true. He's writing this column to do what he does every single year - in order to take a world class shit on the Patriots, Bill Belichick and especially the Kraft family should they fail to win the Lombardi Trophy in February.