The New England Patriots will be without defensive tackle Alan Branch and running back Rex Burkhead in a big AFC East showdown on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Both Branch and Burkhead have not practiced at all this week, and have have been ruled out of Sunday’s game. The Bills will be without wide receiver Andre Holmes who is dealing with a neck injury.
Branch suffered a knee injury during the Patriots Week 15 Monday Night Football loss to the Miami Dolphins, and he also did not play Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won’t need surgery, but isn’t expected to return to the field until the playoffs.
Burkhead went down against the Steelers with a knee injury and even though he can’t play against the Bills, the injury isn’t serious. He was diagnosed with a knee sprain.
While the Patriots will be at home on Sunday, they will be facing a team that is fighting for their playoff lives. The Bills have not made the playoffs since the 1999 season, but are currently holding onto the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture.
With two games remaining in the season, all they have to do is win both to secure a playoff berth. A win at Gillette Stadium is a tall task for any team, but the only wins the Bills have against the Patriots in the last six years were in 2014 and 2016—both at Gillette Stadium.