Do the Patriots have any real shot at the Lombardi Trophy now that Gronk is out for the season?
Jason: Never say never with these Pats, but it's clear that their chances took a low blow with Gronk being carted off. If they had a 15 percent chance of hoisting the hardware with Gronk, they have maybe an 11 percent chance without him. With that said, McDaniels and Belichick are masters of getting the most out of the players on the field, and there are still plenty of weapons still available in Edelman, Amendola, Vereen and Ridley. It will be fascinating to see how they adjust.
Raj: Of course they do! Losing a star player does suck, without a doubt and that could impact the team's performance in the final weeks of the season. But you can't say that the Patriots have no shot at winning the Super Bowl even if Gronkowski is out for the year. They weren't horrible without him. Like I've mentioned in a previous Round Table question, a big part of the Pats' success was the spirit they had. I saw it myself against Denver. Yes Gronk was in that game but the point is, even if you have Gronk or any star receiver, the odds of coming back from 24-0 down in the second half is very very unlikely. You need to have a lot of spirit, unity, and understanding among your team and the Patriots found that against Denver. That's why they won. Same situation with the Cleveland game last week (although that was slightly lucky), they never stopped believing. So now that Gronk is out, why stop believing? In fact I hope the Pats are even more fired up to do great things. With that in mind, maybe calling the Patriots out of the Super Bowl contention discussion should be reconsidered.
Derek: There's no doubt that things will be tougher on the Patriots without Gronk. However, if there's one advantage that this team has that they didn't have the previous two seasons, it's that they're heading into the post-season knowing that they won't have Gronkowski. Prior to this year, Gronk got hurt during the playoffs and the Patriots adjustment period occurred in the middle of an elimination game. With the way this season has gone, the loss of the Gronkster is just one of many hurdles this team has had to face. Every challenge they've come up against, they've met head on and shown the ability to overcome it. Why count this team out now? Why can't they beat a team like the Bengals or embarrass Peyton Manning in the cold? The Super Bowl is clearly within reach. If they can just make it there, you basically just have to hope that A. Seattle doesn't and B. that it snows like crazy. Give me both of those things, and I like the Pats' chances in a title game.