The New England Patriots have scored 114 points over the past three games, the most in the league over the past three games.
And they have done it without their best skill position player, tight end Rob Gronkowski.
It appears, though, they may not have to do without him much longer. According to a report from Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe, the Patriots All-Pro tight end will begin practicing for the first time since suffering a broken arm against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10.
according to a league source, Rob Gronkowski is expected to try to practice this week. Gronkowski underwent surgery on his broken arm Nov 19— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) December 12, 2012
This hardly means anything for his status for Sunday night's showdown with the San Francisco 49ers, and we still may not see him until the playoffs begin (especially if the Patriots win this week, in which case home-field advantage is almost a sure thing), but his return to practice a good sign for his recovery.
Regardless of their scoring output, the Patriots are a much better offense with Gronkowski in the mix.
Gronkowski has been out of the mix for the past three games and still leads the NFL in touchdown receptions with 10. He was also second on the team in receptions with 53 until Brandon Lloyd passed him this week with his seven-catch performance against Houston.
It's a Catch-22; on the one hand, the Patriots don't want to rush Gronkowski back and risk doing further damage to his injured arm before it's fully healed. On the other hand, the Patriots need to win their final three games in order to ensure that they get a first-round bye and aren't rushing him back anyway.
Getting Gronkowski back to full health in time for the playoffs should be at the forefront of the Patriots strategy for getting him back, but testing his wheels along the way can't hurt and should provide the Patriots a better idea of whether he'll back to 100 percent in time for the postseason.
Here's some more news from around the AFC East.
New England Patriots
Bleacher Report Patriots featured columnist Mike Dussault breaks down linebacker Jerod Mayo's All-Pro caliber season for the Patriots defense.
Mike Donnelly of TurnOnTheJets.com delivers a Week 15 stock watch, including thoughts on the Jets' signing of Braylon Edwards.
Rich Cimini of ESPN New York does some film review to shed some light on the ground-and-pound.
Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News says that the Bills are still backing their head coach, despite a 5-8 record and a 15-30 record over the past three seasons.
According to Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Sportsradio, the Bills have placed running back Fred Jackson on injured reserve.
Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post says that despite some struggles for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, many experts still believe in him.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald points out that safety Reshad Jones is having a Pro Bowl season and has set his sights on Honolulu.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!