Paxton Lynch May Start Against Raiders

The Denver Broncos take on the Oakland Raiders at home in what will be their final game of the season. Win or lose, the defending champions are mathematically eliminated from AFC West and Wild Card contention at this point.

That said, head coach Gary Kubiak hasn’t ruled out the possibility that first-round pick Paxton Lynch could start the final game.

Lynch made appearances in three games this season when starter Trevor Siemian sprained an AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder. He replaced Siemian on Oct. 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing for 170 yards and one touchdown.

He played solid the following week in his first start against Atlanta, completing 23-of-35 passes for 223 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. But the Broncos lost 23-16, which called into question the rookie’s performance.

Lynch also saw action against Jacksonville when Siemian sprained his foot. The Memphis product was only 12-of-24 passing with 104 yards and no touchdowns in a 20-10 win.

At just 22 years old, Lynch has time to develop into the franchise quarterback that Denver is looking for. But at this point, he’s considered a raw player who lacks accuracy and touch on his throws.

Currently, Denver is -2.5 on our GTBets line for Sunday’s game. But this could easily shift with Lynch starting, so take his start into account if you’re thinking of betting on the game.

Even if Lynch lowers the Broncos’ chances of winning on Sunday, it’s not like Trevor Siemian is a far-better option. He played really poorly against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, completing just 17-of-43 passes for 183 yards and an interception.

In the past three weeks, Denver has managed just 23 points on offense, which is a huge reason why their playoff hopes vanished.

Siemian played solid up until December and has tallied 3,195 yards, 16 TDs, and 9 INTs, despite missing time with injury. But given the offense’s inability to move the ball over the last few weeks, it only makes sense to give Lynch a try.

Many are intrigued by Lynch’s combination of height (6’7″) and arm strength. If he can show something against Oakland this weekend, he’d have a better chance at winning the starting job next season. If not, then Denver can begin looking outside the organization assuming they don’t think that Lynch or Siemian are capable of leading the team in 2017.

Last season, the Broncos didn’t have strong quarterback play either, with an aging Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler manning the snaps. Neither player was very effective, forcing Denver to rely on their run game and defense on the way to a Super Bowl title.

The team hoped that they could replicate this formula again in 2016. But their chances took a hit when running back C.J. Anderson suffered a torn meniscus. Since then, they’ve had more and more trouble moving the ball, and there was even a locker room argument between the offense and defense.

Given the disappointing way that this season went, don’t expect Denver to rule out any major changes heading into 2017, especially if Lynch doesn’t look sharp against the Raiders.

As for Oakland, they also have a quarterback issue of their own because Derek Carr suffered a broken leg and will be out 6-8 weeks after surgery. Backup Matt McGloin will start against Denver in his place.

Assuming Carr was playing, we’d probably have Oakland favored on the line. But since he’s not, the Raiders are sitting at +2.5.

Strangely enough, rumors suggest that the Raiders may talk to Michael Vick about joining their team. He’s the biggest name in the QB free agent pool, and he appeared in five games for the Steelers last season.

But a source who’s close to the team says that Oakland hasn’t had any talks with Vick yet. And given that the Raiders are paying McGloin nearly $2.6 million to be their backup, they have quite a bit of faith in him.

NFL Power Rankings Week 5, 2016

One week after being throttled by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a dominating 43-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. See where this moves the Steelers in our Week 5 power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Denver Broncos (4-0); beat Tampa Bay 27-7, up 1 spot –  Trevor Siemian still has a sore shoulder, so we might see Paxton Lynch make his first NFL start. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing since Lynch threw for 170 yards and 1 TD against the Buccaneers last week.

2. New England Patriots (3-1); lost to Buffalo 16-0, down 1 spot – New England’s offense didn’t look good last week, and it seems like having Tom Brady out for four weeks finally caught up to them. But the good news for New England is that the Deflate-Gate fiasco is finally over.

3. Minnesota Vikings (4-0); beat NY Giants 24-10, same spot – Minnesota has passed some tough tests in the early going, and their defense has been outstanding. Our main concern, though, is their running back situation with Adrian Peterson now on IR.

4. Seattle Seahawks (3-1); beat NY Jets 27-17, same spot – It was hard telling that Russell Wilson had a sprained knee, as he threw for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1); beat Kansas City 43-14, up 2 spots  – Pittsburgh took advantage of early Chiefs’ gaffes and turned this game into a blowout early. They were leading 36-0 before KC finally scored.

6. Green Bay Packers (2-1); bye week, up 2 spots – The Packers didn’t play, but they still move up after losses by the Chiefs and Panthers.

7. Dallas Cowboys (3-1); beat San Francisco 24-17, up 4 spots – Dallas is certainly faring better this season than they did in 2015 without Tony Romo.

matt-ryan-falcons8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1); beat Carolina 48-33, up 4 spots – Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards and is on pace to break the NFL record for most passing yards in a season.

9. Carolina Panthers (1-3); lost to Atlanta 48-33, down 3 spots – Carolina’s offseason losses hurt them, and it’s showing with an awful start.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2); lost to Pittsburgh 43-14, down 5 spots – Things look bleak after KC got destroyed by Pittsburgh. But Jamaal Charles should be rounding into form soon, and they have a relatively soft schedule coming up: Oakland, New Orleans, Indy, Jacksonville.

11. Arizona Cardinals (1-3); lost to LA 17-13, down 2 spots – With all of the talent that Arizona possess on both sides of the ball, it’s tough to see how they’ve started this poorly.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2); beat Miami 22-7, up 1 spot – With Vontaze Burfict back from suspension, the defense turned in an inspired effort. It also helped the Bengals’ cause that AJ Green tallied 173 receiving yards and a touchdown.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0); bye week, up 1 spot – We get to see another test for undefeated rookie Carson Wentz as the Eagles travel to Detroit.

derek-carr14. Oakland Raiders (3-1); beat Baltimore 28-27, up 3 spots – It’s a little early to declare the Raiders a playoff-bound team. But a 3-1 start shows that this Oakland unit isn’t the same joke that we’ve seen throughout the last decade-plus.

15. Baltimore Ravens (3-1); lost to Oakland 28-27, down 5 spots – Tough loss for Baltimore, which was on the verge of starting the season 3-1.

16. Buffalo Bills (2-2); beat New England 16-0, up 2 spots – We really thought the Bills were sunk following an 0-2 start. But Buffalo has surprised us with tough wins over Arizona and New England.

17. Houston Texans (3-1); beat Tennessee 27-20, up 2 spots – Houston may have lost JJ Watt for the season, but they still look like they could walk over a very weak AFC South.

18. New York Giants (2-2); lost to Minnesota 24-10, down 3 spots – Between injuries at running back and Odell Beckham’s emotions, New York is at a crossroads right now.

jeff-fisher-rams19. LA Rams (3-1); beat Arizona 17-13, up 3 spots – Jeff Fisher got his revenge for comments made by Bruce Arians a couple of years ago. More importantly, LA is tied for first in the NFC West.

20. Indianapolis Colts (1-3); lost to Jacksonville 30-27, down 4 spots – Things are getting so bad for Indianapolis that former Colts legend Reggie Wayne bashed the front office.

21. Washington Redskins (2-2); beat Cleveland 31-20, up 5 spots – After an 0-2 start where everybody was criticizing Kirk Cousins, Washington is now at .500 and in the thick of the NFC East race.

22. Miami Dolphins (1-3); lost to Cincinnati 22-7, down 2 spots – Injuries are really affecting the Dolphins, as they’re missing four offensive lineman, two linebackers, Arian Foster, and Jordan Cameron.

23. New York Jets (1-3); lost to Seattle 27-17, down 2 spots – The Jets opened with one of the toughest early schedules in the league, and it’s taking a toll on their record.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3); beat Indianapolis 30-27, up 3 spots – Jacksonville still hasn’t shown any signs of a breakthrough season, but this win over the Colts is nice.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3); lost to Denver 27-7, down 2 spots – After opening the season with a big win over Atlanta, Tampa Bay has now lost 3 straight games.

26. Chicago Bears (1-3); lost to Detroit 19-17, down 3 spots – Brian Hoyer has provided a nice spark in Jay Cutler’s absence, throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns in this contest.

27. Detroit Lions (1-3); lost to Chicago 19-17, down 3 spots – Matt Stafford had a rough outing in this game, throwing for 213 yards and two interceptions.

28. New Orleans Saints (1-3); beat San Diego 35-34, down 3 spots – The Saints continue to roll on offense, but they haven’t stopped anybody all season.

29. San Diego Chargers (1-3); lost to New Orleans 35-34, down 4 spots – Philip Rivers continues putting up big numbers; but it’s not resulting in wins because the defense can’t stop opposing rushers.

30. Tennessee Titans (1-3); lost to Houston 27-20, down 1 spot – The highlight of the season has been the rejuvenation of DeMarco Murray. But what the Titans really need is to turn some of these close games into wins.

31. San Francisco (1-3); lost to Dallas 24-17, same spot – Blaine Gabbert started off well in this contest, but he couldn’t generate any offense after the first half.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4); lost to Washington 31-20, same spot – One bright spot for Cleveland has been Isaiah Crowell, who’s the league’s second leading rusher with 394 yards.