Key Matchup – Jesse
Dec 14, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight endRob Gronkowski
(87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 41-13. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Gronkowski versus Seattle’s pass coverage
Gronk is a complete game-changer, which only a small handful of tight ends in the league can say.
As he struggled early on in the season, so did the Patriots. But once he and Brandon LaFell turned things around, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense became nearly unstoppable. He finished this season with over 1,000 yards on 82 catches and 12 touchdowns and has two so far in the playoffs (one against both the Ravens and Colts).
But the Seahawks field the best secondary in the league and have linebackers that can cover, too. That puts more pressure on Gronk, as his wideouts might struggle to get open against Sherman and Byron Maxwell.
While New England ran the ball more than effectively against the Colts, the Seahawks are often extremely stout in stopping the run. That will force Brady to throw and look for his favorite target, who will be going against the best unit he’s seen this season.