denver broncosThe Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, two of the best defenses in all the NFL, will play each other in the final preseason game of 2016 Thursday. Neither club plans on showing much as they prepare for Week 1 battles with other top clubs when it counts.

What: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, September 1, 9:30 p.m. ET, U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ.

Last Week/Next Week

The Denver Broncos defeated the Los Angeles Rams 17-9 last week to improve to 2-1 in the preseason. They host the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl L on Thursday, September 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Arizona Cardinals fell to the Houston Texans 34-24 last week. They are now 0-3 in the preseason. Arizona hosts the New England Patriots at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11 in their regular season opener.

Denver Broncos Preview

The Broncos selected their starting quarterback, second-year man Trevor Siemian, on Monday. Siemian beat out rookie Paxton Lynch and journeyman Mark Sanchez for the job.

“I think he’s earned the right to be our guy,” Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said. “That’s what I told the team this morning. I go back and I look at the body of work throughout the offseason, and I watch training camp throughout the preseason, how far he’s come. I watch how much he’s improved, in my opinion, the grasp that he has of what we’re doing. To me, he’s earned the right to go out there and be our starter.”

“It’s not that the other guys didn’t do something. It’s really more about how far Trevor has come as a player.”

Kubiak said Siemian’s commitment has been there since Day One and really expanded during the most recent off-season and OTAs.

“Someone asked me when I thought Trevor had a chance to get to this point, and really I thought it was through the offseason, and OTAs,” Kubiak said. “I knew he was a good kid. I knew he worked hard,¬† knew he watched Peyton (Manning) go about his business from that standpoint, but once we started OTAs, it was time for me to see exactly where he was, and I think every day he kind of showed us, ‘I can do this, I can be competitive in this situation and I believe in myself.'”

Other News

It sounds like Lynch will take the backup job, which will leave Sanchez as the odd man out and possibly headed to Minnesota to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater.

Kubiak said Lynch would play the whole game against Arizona on Thursday.

“He needs to play every rep he can play,” Kubiak said. “That has nothing to do with Mark [Sanchez] or anything; I’ve got a lot of stuff to go off on Mark. But Paxton needs every rep he can possibly get.” With their regular season opener just seven days away, the Broncos will rest all of their starters.

Last week Siemian’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Virgil Green gave the Broncos a 7-6 lead over the Los Angeles Rams. He wound up completing 10 of 17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. C.J. Anderson had 11 carries for 50 yards in his first significant action.

Arizona Cardinals Preview

The best news all week for the Cardinals came Tuesday came when both safety Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver John Brown were cleared to play. Mathieu has yet to play in a game since returning to practice on August 21. he tore his ACL at the end of the regular season a year ago.

Brown took a concussion on July 31 and has suffered headaches since. He had back-to-back headache free days recently.

The Cardinals will need as much talent as they can to get away from an 0-3 start to the preseason. Their vaunted defense was embarrassed by the Houston Texans last Sunday. Houston scored 31 points in the first half. Quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Tom Savege combined to hit the Cardinals for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

Carson Palmer threw just nine passes and had two interceptions. The second was an intended screen pass that John Simon tipped to himself and intercepted. Palmer received a tongue lashing from coach Bruce Arians for his poor judgement. The team did run the ball well, racking up 165 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries. However, even in the preseason it’s tough overcoming four interceptions.

Denver Broncos vs. Arizona Cardinals Predictions

This should be a really fun look at Paxton Lynch as he crafts the entire game along with the Broncos’ rash of injuries. A rookie with this much talent might be Siemian’s backup for now but that can’t last forever.

Score Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 22, Denevr Broncos 19