How bad were the injuries last week? They were so bad not only knocked Gronk and Hightower out of the game, but they knocked the Patriots down a notch (or two, or four) and out of 1st place in the rankings. The undefeated Carolina Panthers have claimed the No. 1 spot, and frankly that's fine with me.
The relief that Rob Gronkowski was NOT lost for the season more than made up for the loss to the Broncos, the loss of the undefeated season and mostly made up for the pain of the horrific officiating from Week 12. Jamie Collins and Danny Amendola are back at practice and the Pats are slowly getting healthy. I'm giving them a win against the Eagles this week to celebrate.
Around the AFC East:
Patriots (10-1) vs. Philadelphia (4-7)
Buffalo (5-6) vs. Houston (6-5)
Miami (4-7) vs. Baltimore (4-7)
Notable AFC Matchups:
Cincinnati (9-2) at Cleveland (2-9)
Denver (9-2) at San Diego (3-8)
Pittsburgh (6-5) at Indianapolis (6-5)
Kansas City (6-5) at Oakland (5-6)
Jacksonville (4-7) at Tennessee (2-9)
Sean Mason (Spark Sports) ranks them 1st: The Patriots are going to be fine. Yes, they are banged up right now, and yes, they blew a two score lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind come January, the Patriots will be the most dangerous team in the NFL.
ESPN Experts rank them 1st: If Rob Gronkowski has to miss time, Tom Brady will be without his top four leading receivers. Gronk also leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns since 2010 (63).
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 2nd: Tom Brady got a little mad with the loss at Mile High, but he should be pleased it didn't come at the major cost of that Gronk guy.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 2nd.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks then 2nd: Gronk is OK, more or less, so all else that happened Sunday night—yes, including the loss—is inconsequential by comparison. So long as he has his star tight end, Tom Brady could move the chains with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at receiver. Now the Patriots just need Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower healthy (it sounds like Collins will play in Week 13). Without them, as the Broncos proved, their run defense is highly suspect.
Dan Schneier (Fox Sports) ranks them 2nd: Losing their first game of the season in wacky fashion is less of a concern than the mounting injuries along the offensive line and at skill positions for Tom Brady. However, with Bill Belichick, the Patriots will no doubt find a way to tailor the offense to the players who remain active. View season trend.
Frank Schwab (Shutdown Corner) ranks them 2nd: It was lost with the final result of the game, but Tom Brady's drive with a little more than a minute to go to get the game-tying field goal Sunday night, with no Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman or Dion Lewis, was an MVP moment.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 2nd: The only person who hated the refs' work Sunday night more than Tom Brady? Peyton Manning. First loss in a long while for a Bill Belichick-led team that has been playing with fire for several weeks in a row. Of course, a pass offense that features Brandon Bolden, Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin and Scott Chandler should probably be ranked 61st, not first. What Tom Brady was able to accomplish late in the fourth quarter with the posse he was rolling with should cement him as the greatest quarterback of all time.
Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report) ranks them 2nd: Even without the team's full allotment of offensive weapons, the Patriots should be able to score plenty this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly's squad surrendered 90 points over the last two weeks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jameis Winston and Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford combined to throw for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions over that period. Tom Brady should be salivating as he prepares to face the Eagles defense.
Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today) ranks them 2nd: Poor Gronk. "Snow Day" commercials are a lot more fun than playing actual NFL games in the powdery stuff.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 2nd: They have a ton of injury issues, so now it's about getting ready for the playoffs. Who is Tom Brady throwing to now?
Peter King (The MMQB) ranks them 3rd: I would likely still have them No. 1, even with a loss, if Gronkowski wasn’t iffy. His injury made all the difference Sunday night. Well, that plus the muffed punt by Chris Harper, the practice-squadder the Pats cut Monday.
Danny Kelly (SB Nation) ranks them 3rd: With Rob Gronkowski out another week or two due to a knee injury, the already injury-depleted Patriots have a real challenge on their hands, particularly in two weeks when they face the red-hot Texans.
Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) ranks them 3rd: Will Tom Brady eventually be throwing passes to Tony Gonzalez, Randy Moss, and/or Terrell Owens?
Mark Maske (Washington Post) ranks them 3rd: Yes, in the season after DeflateGate, it was supposed to be Tom Brady vs. the world. But Brady was supposed to have a few healthy teammates to assist. From Brady’s offensive linemen to RB Dion Lewis, then WRs Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, the injury list has grown steadily. Brady and the Patriots overcame all of that and kept winning until Sunday night in Denver, when TE Rob Gronkowski also got hurt. Gronkowski is the one player, aside from Brady, the Patriots cannot lose. Fortunately for them, his knee injury does not appear too serious.
Reddit ranks them 3rd: In the past two days Patriots fans have gone from mourning a lost season to mourning a lost perfect record. Gronk's knee survived to fight another day. The Pats start the second chapter of their quest for 18-1 next week against the Eagles.
Dan Parzych (Rant Sports) ranks them 3rd: There's no doubt Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos was frustrating for the New England Patriots, but just look at what Tom Brady had to work with late in the game. No playoff contender has suffered more devastating injuries than the Patriots, but hopefully some of their key players will be healthy enough come January.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 5th: Tom Brady showed why he is Tom Brady with an incredible last-miute drive in regulation on Sunday night, but with Gronk now hurt, and Dont'a Hightower hurting on the defensive side of the ball, how much more can we expect Tom to do?
AVERAGE RANK: 2.4