We noted how a quartet of tight ends posted monster stats in the divisional round. While one of those four tight ends (Saints Jimmy Graham) won't be playing this weekend, the other three play as home favorites in the AFC and NFC Championship games.
Here are our tight end rankings for the championship-game round of the playoffs:
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (vs BAL): Through 17 games this season, Gronkowski has nearly twice as many touchdowns (21 counting his "rushing" score) than the Ravens have allowed passing touchdowns (11). Counting last week, Gronkowski has 100 receptions for 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns (plus one "carry" for two yards and a touchdown) this season.
2. Vernon Davis, 49ers (vs NYG): Davis is averaging seven receptions, 180 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason for his career. Granted, he's only played one postseason game, but it was a helluva performance last week.
3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots (vs BAL): In his past four games, Hernandez has 24 receptions for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps more impressive is his rushing stats during that span: nine carries for 104 yards. (As a comparison, Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 77 rushing yards during that span.)
4. Jake Ballard, Giants (at SF): In the postseason, Ballard has been nearly invisible with 16 and 17 yards, respectively, over the past two weeks. That said, Ballard had 38 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season.
5. Ed Dickson, Ravens (at NE): In his past eight games, Dickson has had less than 50 receiving yards every week and less than 25 yards in six of those games.
6. Dennis Pitta, Ravens (at NE): Pitta has been slightly more productive than Dickson recently. During that same span, Pitta has had at least (but not much more than) 25 yards in five of eight games and he scored three touchdowns from Weeks 12 to 17 of the regular season.
7. Travis Beckum, Giants (at SF): Neither Ballard or Beckum have been particularly productive this postseason. Both tight ends have three receptions and Ballard has a few more yards (33) than Beckum (29).