Rob Gronkowski will have surgery on Thursday on his ACL and MCL
Gronkowski injured his knee back on December 8, and was almost immediately ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
His injury was a huge blow to the Patriots offense, who rely heavily on his big play ability. Without him, they'll have to lean on their running game a lot more, and it's a completely different offense.
Gronkowski is expected to recover in time for the beginning of the 2014 season, so the Patriots won't be without him for terribly long, but this playoff run will be an extremely difficult one without one of their biggest playmakers on the field.
In particular, Gronkowski's presence in the red zone is nearly unmatched, and gives the Patriots a nearly unstoppable option when the field is shortened. Without him, they're forced to try to get the ball to one of their undersized receivers, or run it in with their quartet of running backs (Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Boldin and LeGarrette Blount).
Recovery should take about 6 and a half months, so Gronkowski will be back in late July for training camp.