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Wed 28/01/2015 - 18:16 EST

Analyzing Rob Gronkowski Super Bowl XLIX Props

No tight end has ever won Super Bowl MVP honors, but there's a pretty decent chance that if New England wins Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday as a 2-point favorite against Seattle that the Patriots did so because of a big game from Rob Gronkowski and that he could win MVP. He is the 9/1 fourth-favorite for the honor on Bovada's NFL odds.

Seattle has the No. 1 overall defense, No. 1 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. This is the sixth Super Bowl for the Patriots under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and this defense will provide the Patriots their biggest challenge to date. The Seahawks led the NFL in points and yards allowed the last two seasons, the first team to do so since the 1985-86 Chicago Bears. Those '85 Bears won the Super Bowl by thrashing the Patriots, way before the Brady/Belichick days.

The Patriots were 2-2 in September. Then Gronkowski was able to ramp up his playing time, coming off ACL surgery, and everything clicked. Gronkowski played 62 percent of the snaps in Week 4, then that jumped to 79 percent in Week 5 and he was a full-time player after that, according to Pro Football Focus’ playing time data. The Patriots are 12-2 since Gronkowski became himself again, and one of the two losses was Week 17 when Gronkowski was held out.

So why could Gronk have a big day? He was the Patriots’ leading receiver this season and has a touchdown in five straight games. In addition, tight ends have given the Seahawks’ defense issues this season. The Seahawks allowed 11 touchdown passes to tight ends in the regular season, tied for third-most in the NFL, with six coming in their four losses.  San Diego's Antonio Gates had three in a Chargers' upset in Week 2.  Seattle also ranked 22nd in Total QBR on passes targeting tight ends this season. It ranked first in passes directed toward running backs and wide receivers.

You can bet on Gronk's receiving yards at +33.5 against the number of points scored by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night in Minnesota. The Cavaliers are on fire, the Wolves are terrible and the worst defensive team in the NBA. Cleveland scored 125 on the Wolves early this year.

How about Gronkowski's longest reception at +4.5 against the  number of points scored by Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant against a good Memphis defense on Saturday? That's  if Durant plays, as he has missed games Monday and Wednesday this week with a toe injury.

Gronk is 5/1 to score the first touchdown of Super Bowl XLI, second-best to Marshawn Lynch (11/2). Gronkowski has an over/under of 74.5 receiving yards and 5.5 catches. His longest reception O/U is 22.5 yards. That Gronk scores a TD at any point in the game is -165 with  no at +135. When the Patriots lost in Seattle 24-23 in the 2012 season, Gronkowski had six catches for 61 yards with no scores.

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