Can the Broncos’ Defense Shut Down Gronk on Sunday?

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Nov 24, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is pressured by Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) during second quarter at Gillette Stadium Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In some of the more recent meetings the Denver Broncos have had with the New England Patriots, there’s been one glaring problem Denver has had defensively.

They’ve had good success stopping the Patriots’ run game. New England’s receiving core doesn’t overwhelm the Broncos’ secondary, and quarterback Tom Brady, for how great he is, is not alone dominating Denver’s defense.

It’s Gronk.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been unstoppable whenever he plays the Broncos. He’s too big for secondary personnel, and is able to outrun any linebacker that is tasked with covering him.

In his four career games going against the Denver defense, he has a combined 323 receiving yards on 25 catches. He’s also accumulated four touchdowns, three of those coming in a 45-10 rout of Tim Tebow’s Cinderella team in the Divisional Round of the playoffs two years ago.

The only time the Broncos were saved from Gronkowski’s wrath was in last season’s AFC Championship game. He missed the western showdown when then-Cleveland Browns’ safety T.J. Ward knocked him out for the rest of the year when he obliterated his right knee with a LEGAL hit in Week 14.

Those two will share the field again this Sunday for the first time since the incident.

Fast forward to this week’s rematch, and Gronkowski is playing some of the best ball of his career. His 40 receptions rank fourth among tight ends and leads the rest with nearly 600 yards. Gronkowski’s seven touchdowns are only second to our very own Julius Thomas, and veteran Antonio Gates, who both have nine.

The Patriots’ star tight end also had his finest performance of the season last Sunday. He hauled in nine catches and rumbled through the Chicago Bears’ defense to the tune of 149 yards and three touchdowns.

With that in mind, who will Broncos’ defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have attempt to slow down Gronkowski? Let’s take a look at his best options.