The New England Patriots are expected to have star TE Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup when the team hosts the New Orleans Saints Sunday, according to a USA TODAY Sports source.
Oddsmakers opened the Patriots as big as 3-point home favorites but that was bet down to -1 with action on the undefeated Saints. New England suffered its first loss of the season at Cincinnati last Sunday, falling short on a would-be, game-winning drive in the driving Ohio rain.
“I don't think his return will impact the odds for this week’s game against the Saints,” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSport.ag, tells Covers. “The way the Saints are playing, I could see us moving them to the favorite in this game. “
Gronkowski has yet to play this season while recovering from offseason back surgery. He was QB Tom Brady’s favorite red-zone target last season, catching 11 TDs to go along with 790 receiving yards.
Gronkowski’s slow recovery, and former TE Aaron Hernandez’s murder investigation, has left New England without its top two tight ends from 2012. Current TEs Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan have combined for only four catches and 39 yards with one touchdown.
“It’s also hard to say how much Gronk is worth without his side kick (Aaron) Hernandez,” says Stewart. “Defenses will roll double coverage to him to eliminate him from the game.”
The total for Sunday’s showdown with the Saints is set at 49.5 points.