On Friday, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery that will sideline him for two months. It's the third back surgery the freakish player out of the University of Arizona has undergone in his professional career (2009 and 2013).
Not having their most explosive player means the Pats' Super Bowl hopes just took a hit if Gronk indeed misses the rest of the regular season and playoffs.
According to SportsLine's projections, the odds of New England winning the AFC Championship game and representing the conference in the Super Bowl dip from 49 percent to 42 percent if Gronk is out.
The odds of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl fall from 31 percent to 24 percent.
However, that 24 percent chance still far exceeds the next closest teams, the NFC's Cowboys and Seahawks, who each have a 15 percent chance of winning the Big Game.
This Sunday, the Patriots are 13-point favorites over the visiting LA Rams. SportsLine projects they now have a 75 percent chance of winning the game without Gronk, down from 80 percent with him.
In Week 14, the Patriots host the Ravens. SportsLine says New England now has a 70 percent chance of winning that game (down from 74%).
On average, Gronkowski's absence cuts New England's chances of winning any game by about 5 percent.
Gronkowski has appeared in eight games this season, but has been severely hampered by injury. He's a dominant force when healthy and has 68 career touchdowns in seven seasons.