If the Patriots are going to make a run in the playoffs, they will have to do it without Brandon Spikes. The linebacker will miss the rest of the season after the team placed him on injured reserve due to a knee injury.
The move comes as somewhat of a surprise. Spikes dealt with a knee injury for much of the season, but was able to play through it and appeared in all 16 regular season games. New England was off on a bye last week and it's unclear if Spikes injured his knee, or could no longer play through the previous injury.
Spikes becomes the latest key Patriot defender to land on injured reserve. New England was already playing without Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo. Spikes finished the season third on the team in tackles and Mike Reiss of ESPN called him New England's "most physical downhill tackler" among the linebackers.
New England's defense was signifcantly better this season when Spikes was on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Brandon Spikes played in 669 of the NE's def snaps this season. NE allowed a 44.1 QBR with him on the field, compared to 59.7 without him.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 6, 2014