The New England Patriots suffered a significant loss this week even though you may not realize it at first.

According to the Boston Herald, the New England Patriots are expected to place defensive end Ron Brace on injured reserve this week.

Brace injured his elbow in last week's 34-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills and is expected to be on IR by Monday. The team is waiting until Monday in order to use Brace's vacant roster spot to welcome back the return of linebacker Brandon Spikes. Spikes 4 game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs ends Monday.

Brace, the second year defensive end out of Boston College, has only started 5 of the 13 games for the Patriots but has performed well as part of the defensive line rotation in New England.

His presence will be missed as the Patriots defensive line has been one of the team's few weaknesses this season. After losing their second best run stuffing defensive lineman, Ty Warren, coming into the season, the team also are carrying two active players who are injured. Mike Wright and Myron Pryor have been sidelined for more than a month. Wright is doubtful for the regular season finale while Pryor is questionable.

Both players should be back for the playoffs but Brace is now done for the season along with Warren. The Patriots cannot afford anymore losses on the defensive line.

The Patriots(13-2) own the AFC's no.1 seed and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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