Rob Gronkowski makes Patriots Super Bowl contenders

Rob Gronkowski elevates for a TD, AP/Elise Amendola
Rob Gronkowski's three touchdown performance against the Bears on Sunday obviously won't be the norm, but if that doesn't show that Gronk is back to top form after his knee injury, I don't know what will.

Gronk made anyone that tried to cover him (or tackle him) look bad. It was pure domination from the 6'6", 265 pound tight end. While Gronk may not have that kind of performance again this season, he looks poised to be a huge factor the rest of the way.

A player like Gronk is a game changer. It's obvious when he's out there on the field. If he's double teamed and doesn't get the ball, it leaves more room for other receivers to get open. He makes life easier for the other receivers.

There are times when Gronk still can't be stopped in double coverage simply because of his physical prowess.

When a team chooses not to leave a guy one on one with Gronk, that's when it gets scary. Defensive backs can't cover him because they're too small, and linebackers can't cover him because they're usually too slow, lack the coverage skill, or they're still too small.

The return of "top-form Gronk" makes the Patriots instant Super Bowl contenders. They're a tough team to stop with him on the field, and they also have the best defense they've had in years. Obviously, they still need to execute, but Gronk makes that easier. This team could take down any of the other Super Bowl contenders in the league. They will get their first opportunity next Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

A healthy Gronk, along with the other skill players, makes the Patriots offense arguably the best in the league. Yes, I am arguing that New England running at 100% efficiency is better than Denver running at 100% efficiency. The Patriots have better tight ends, and Brady is clicking with his receivers now. Brandon LaFell continues to become a dominant receiver, and is showing us why he was number one on Denver's radar this past offseason. I'm not saying he's Demaryius Thomas, but he's pretty good. Emmanuel Sanders is impressive, but so is Julian Edelman. There may be some bias here, but I'd take Tom Brady throwing to our players over Peyton to his.

It's no coincidence that having an effective Gronk and better offensive line has allowed Brady to go 100/144, 1,268 yards, 14 TD, 0 INT, over the past month.

The Kansas City blowout, all the talent and Brady questioning, seems like ages ago. The Patriots are sky rocketing to the top of the NFL, and if they continue to improve and win games, will have gone from a team supposedly in shambles to the best team in the league and Super Bowl a little over a month, and this is mostly due to Gronk returning to form.

Follow me on Twitter - @b_thibs34

For more of my articles, click here.