After Sunday's win against the New York Jets in which Rob Gronkowski left the game early with an injury, Patriots fans were left hoping the latest news about his fitness would be positive.
It is not.
According to Adam Schefter, the star tight end will have to undergo back surgery on Friday to repair a herniated disk and, as a result, miss two months of action.
This, of course, is a major hit to New England's Super Bowl chances. Just consider the mere timing of the injury.
Super Bowl LI will take place just a little over two months from now, sure. But if the reported two-month timetable for recovery is accurate, that means Gronk is set to miss out on the Pats' playoff run.
With big games to win on the way to the Super Bowl, New England would obviously be better served if it had a guy who, when healthy, is the most talented receiver the team has.
And even if the Patriots do make it to the Super Bowl, there's no guarantee Gronk will be fully recovered and fit enough to play to the best of his ability in Houston.
The "good news" (if you can even call it that) is that Gronk having injury problems is nothing new for the Patriots. They began this season alone without the star tight end as he missed the first two games.
And still, they won both.
They also won against the Texans the following week, despite Gronk being limited and making no receptions. And, of course, the Patriots beat the Jets after Gronk walked off the field at MetLife Stadium in the first quarter with zero receptions.
So they can win without Gronk. There's just the question of whether they can win enough big games to take the Super Bowl without him, especially because Tom Brady's performance is proven to suffer without his favorite target.
That's questionable, and because that's questionable, their title chances will have decreased in many fans' minds.