The Denver Broncos visit the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night in what would be the week’s most intriguing game if it took place in the regular season. Instead, it’s the preseason finale as the teams get ready to start the 2016 NFL season as two of the top Super Bowl contenders.
With Denver set to kick off the season in exactly a week against the Carolina Panthers and Arizona opening the year against the New England Patriots on "Sunday Night Football," most of the teams’ key players will sit. That includes the starting quarterbacks, giving one of the top rookie signal callers his chance to shine.
Ahead of the preseason finale, the Broncos announced that Trevor Siemian would be the team’s starting quarterback. Mark Sanchez appears likely to be released or traded before Week 1, allowing Paxton Lynch the opportunity to play the entire game.
Lynch was the most impressive of Denver’s three quarterbacks in the preseason opener, completing 6 of 7 passes for 74 yards, though he did so against the Chicago Bears’ third-team defense. He’s had more trouble in the last two games, completing less than 54 percent of his passes and needing 39 attempts to throw for just 170 yards.
"He's going to play with a lot of young players. I thought he could handle his group a little better than he did last week, so he's going to play with the same guys this week," Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak told reporters.
"I just want to see him consistently improve. It's not going to be very complicated. I'd like to see him play a little faster and see him take another step."
While the Broncos are entering the season with a lot of unanswered questions at the quarterback position, the Cardinals are set with Carson Palmer, who was an MVP candidate last year. Palmer is not expected to play on Thursday, and Arizona’s focus will be on those looking to make the team. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians told reporters there are about 12 players fighting for four roster spots.
The Cardinals are one of four teams that are 0-3 in the preseason, and they are the only playoff team from a year ago that is winless. Denver is 2-1 in the preseason.
Start Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV Channels: ABC-15 (Arizona) and KTVD (Denver)
Online Stream: NFL Game Pass