If you happened to look at the Super Bowl futures market anytime during the past 15 years, chances are you saw the New England Patriots at the top of the list. The Patriots have been the alpha team in the NFL ever since Tom Brady took over for the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001. They've won the Super Bowl four times with Brady at quarterback and head coach Bill Belichick calling the shots, and they're +290 favorites at press time to make it five.

New England (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) took another step closer to the title on Sunday by beating the Los Angeles Rams 26-10, cashing in as 14-point home favorites and giving Brady his record-setting 201st career regular season win. But victory came at a price: WR Danny Amendola (ankle) and CB Eric Rowe (hamstring) both left the game with injuries and did not return. Amendola was seen on crutches shortly afterwards.
 

Gronk's Away

The Patriots have an even bigger problem to worry about. TE Rob Gronkowski, who has played through a myriad of injuries this year, including a bruised lung, was put on injured reserve last week after undergoing surgery to correct a herniated disk in his back. Gronkowski managed to only play eight games for New England, starting six times, but he's third on the team with 540 receiving yards on just 25 catches.

Fortunately for the Pats, they have another quality tight end in Martellus Bennett, who has 544 receiving yards this season and has filled the gap admirably in Gronkowski's absence. As for Amendola (243 yards), he hasn't been much of a factor outside of special teams. Brady still has top WR Julian Edelman (718 yards) at his disposal, and Brady has a history of getting the most out of a depleted receiving corps. Chris Hogan (484 yards) and rookie Malcolm Mitchell (317 yards) each have three touchdown catches in their first year at Foxborough.

That doesn't mean the Patriots are a better team after all these injuries. They were +240 Super Bowl favorites last week, ahead of the Dallas Cowboys at +400; this week, the Cowboys are right up in New England's grill at +350, with the Seattle Seahawks not far behind at +525. New England has also enjoyed a very soft schedule this year, which has made Brady and the Pats look especially good. We'll see how they fare once the postseason arrives and the competition starts getting tougher.

 

*Odds as of December 7, 2016