This one took a drastic turn on Saturday night.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be unable to suit up to play due to a back injury, thus delivering a notable blow to Tom Brady’s arsenal of weapons on offense. The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride was the first to note that he did not travel with the team.
With Gronk being sidelined, Brady will rely heavily on Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman and Sony Michel on offense, who were all listed as questionable but are now expected to play.
The Chicago pass rush is no joke, as the acquisition of Khalil Mack has seemed to rejuvenate the franchise’s rich tradition on the defensive side of the ball. Mack was listed as questionable throughout the week with an ankle injury, but he is also expected to play. He will be on a limited snap count, but anytime he is on the field he garners the attention of opposing quarterbacks. Leonard Floyd and the impressive rookie in Roquan Smith have also made an impact on putting fear into offenses.
Chicago is coming off a tough overtime loss to the Brock Osweiler led Miami Dolphins, and will look to rebound today. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is fourth in the NFL with a 70.2% completion percentage, which will give the struggling secondary of the Patriots trouble. Head coach Matt Nagy comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, and if last week suggests anything, the Chicago offense should create some space in the open field to operate.
Running back Tarik Cohen is a speedster in the backfield, similar to how the Patriots implement James White in the passing game. Wideout Taylor Gabriel also has lightning fast speed, and fans remember how he torched the Patriots in the Super Bowl two seasons ago while he was with the Atlanta Falcons. Trubisky will also have the big target available in Allen Robinson, who was listed as questionable with a groin injury.
The Bears should look to exploit the Patriots’ safeties, as Devin McCourty had a less than stellar outing last week against the Chiefs. Tight end Trey Burton has also came on as of late for the Bears, as he has recorded a touchdown in each of the last two games.
The Patriots will look to control the clock on offense in a tough place to play in Soldier Field. This will be a close game, as the Patriots are favored by just 1.5 points after it became known that Gronk will be sidelined. Look for this to be a close contest throughout, with the Patriots being able to squeak by with a victory.