Denver will turn to its second starting quarterback of the post-Peyton Manning era. With starter Trevor Siemian dealing with a shoulder injury, the Broncos will turn to 2016 first round draft pick Paxton Lynch behind center.
Lynch earned his first NFL snaps in week four after Siemian left the game with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. The first-year quarterback completed 14 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos rolled over the Buccaneers on the road.
Lynch helped turn Memphis from an FBS afterthought to an AAC powerhouse in three years as the team’s starting quarterback. He posted a pristine 28:4 TD:INT ratio while leading the Tigers to as high as No. 15 in the AP Top 25.
He’ll be the fifth rookie quarterback to start this season, and the sixth first-year signal caller to make an appearance in a game.
Atlanta will provide Denver a stiff test. The Falcons are led by defensive guru Dan Quinn, though his defense has taken a background role to the league’s leading offense this season. Matt Ryan has been 2016’s most prolific passer. His top target, Julio Jones, leads the league in receiving yards after springing for an even 300 against Carolina in week four.
The Falcons defense hasn’t been as impressive. They’ve given up 31 points per game and 317 passing yards — both marks that rank inside the NFL’s bottom four teams. That should give Lynch some room to operate, though Quinn is likely to have some new tricks to throw at a rookie quarterback making his first start.