By Danny Cox

Right now, the New England Patriots are coming off of their biggest win of the season after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, and things should be looking up. The playoff-clinching scenarios are in their favor and Rob Gronkowski received impressive recognition after his big-time performance this past weekend, but not everything is going along a smooth path.

Patriots ban Tom Brady’s trainer from both the sideline and team plane

There seems to be some serious friction in the Patriots organization. Tom Brady’s trainer has been stripped of numerous team privileges and has been banned from the sideline and the team plane. There is a lot of speculation that there is some bad blood between Alex Guerrero, Brady’s trainer and close friend, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Guerrero does have an office in Gillette Stadium, which is near the team locker room, but he is no longer allowed to treat any player other than Tom Brady in his office. Guerrero has also had his sideline access revoked and has been banned from boarding team planes at any time for any reason.

Brady would not comment on a possible issue between Guerrero and Belichick, but continues to support his trainer and the work that he’s done for him. Brady truly believes that his trainer is a “huge reason” he’s still able to play in the NFL at 40 years of age.

Rob Gronkowski earns AFC Offensive Player of the Week award

Gronk may not have found the endzone for a touchdown against the Steelers, but he did more than enough to keep the Patriots moving down the field to pick up a huge victory. At the end of the day, Rob Gronkowski had nine receptions for a total of 168 yards and an important two-point conversion, which was enough for him to receive well-deserved recognition.

For just the second time in his career, Gronk earned the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. The first time he won the award was back in late 2011, when he had six receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns in a Patriots’ victory over the Washington Redskins.

Playoff-clinching scenarios favor Patriots in Week 16

Even with everything else going on off the field, the Patriots do have some work to do on the field this weekend. They will be a step closer to the playoffs when they take on the Buffalo Bills. The only part of the playoff scenario that the Pats can focus on is picking up a victory on Christmas Eve, but from there they will need some help.

New England can clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs with a victory against the Bills along with a loss by the Steelers in addition to a loss or tie by the Jacksonville Jaguars. If all of that doesn’t go their way, they can still clinch a first-round bye.

The Patriots can clinch a first-round bye with:

  • A win and a Steelers loss OR
  • A win and a Jaguars loss or tie OR
  • A tie and a Jaguars tie
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