ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --On a day that saw the Broncos place two of their three season-long captains on injured reserve, the focus remained on the quarterback position, where Head Coach Gary Kubiak announced that he would start Trevor Siemian, but would play rookie Paxton Lynch at some point during the game against the Raiders.
1. WHY PLAY BOTH QUARTERBACKS?
There are two overriding reasons, according to Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison.
One is so Siemian has the chance to end the season on a better note than via a performance last week that was his worst by multiple key metrics: completion percentage, yardage per attempt and quarterback rating. All of those numbers were affected by Siemian completing just 3 of 16 passes that were fired more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
"I want him to get the Kansas City taste out of his mouth," Kubiak said.
"I'd like to play today, truthfully," Siemian added.
The other is even with Siemian having 13 starts under his belt, he is still a young quarterback for whom additional repetitions can help.
"They're both early in their careers, so they both need snaps. They both need to develop," Dennison said.
- LYNCH ISN'T DISAPPOINTED AT NOT STARTING**
"I was more excited than anything to get the opportunity to play again," Lynch told media in the locker room after Wednesday's jog-through practice.
Having started and entered in relief, Lynch acknowledged that it's tougher to walk into a game midway through it than to start, "just because you're sitting around and then you've got to come off the bench and come play.
"But it helps knowing that you're going to go in and play, so you can stay warm on the sideline [for] when you do come in," he continued.
Lynch added that his knowledge of the playbook is "night and day" from where it was when he arrived in May.
"It's coming along," Lynch said. "Obviously, only being here for one year, you're not going to know everything like the back of your hand, but I'm a lot more comfortable where I am now, and I feel more comfortable going out here and playing."
- FINDING MOTIVATION**
Two factors remain present for the Broncos and should be enough to ensure a strong effort: the desire for a winning season and individual pride in performance.
"We have a lot of pros in the locker room, so I don't think giving effort or anything will be an issue," Siemian said. "We want to win. That's the bottom line. We'll put our best foot forward and give it our best go [on] Sunday."
Cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib also want to maintain their status as the league's best cornerback duo. By the metrics used by ProFootballFocus.com, Harris and Talib rank 1-2 among NFL cornerbacks. Harris has allowed just 4.4 yards every time he's been targeted; Talib's average is 5.4 yards. (The league average is 7.7 yards.)
And there's one other factor: It's your arch-rival.
"If you need to get up for a game, you can always get up for the Raiders," Talib said.
- SEARCHING FOR TOUCHDOWNS**
No matter what happens Sunday, this will be an unusual season for a Kubiak-led offense. In 18 of his 22 campaigns as head coach or offensive coordinator, the offenses have been above the league average in offensive touchdowns -- sometimes way above. As recently as 2014, the Ravens offense led by Kubiak averaged 2.69 touchdowns per game -- 15.9 percent above the league average.
The 2016 Broncos offense has struggled to just 28 touchdowns, a rate of 1.87 per game that is 22.2 percent and over a half touchdown below the league average of 2.4 per game. The offense has just three touchdowns in December, the fewest in the league.
Those numbers are troublesome, but Dennison said he was focused on another number when the touchdown tally was broached at his press conference.
"I think the biggest issue is [wins and] losses. Whatever it takes to win the game. We didn't score enough points to win games," Dennison said. "Whether it's yards or not, that's how you judge yourself [and] that's how other people judge you."
But the lack of touchdowns is a massive component of the reasons why the Broncos have lost four of their last five games.
5. OTHER SHUFFLING BEYOND QB?
Injuries will necessitate some more shifting of duties. The decision to place OLB DeMarcus Ware on injured reserve sets up more playing time for Dekoda Watson and potentially rookie Vontarrius Dora, who was recently promoted from the practice squad.
Cornerback Kayvon Webster's season-ending concussion will also ensure more repetitions for Lorenzo Doss and perhaps Taurean Nixon, who was promoted back to the 53-man roster from the practice squad Wednesday.
Kubiak also said that guard Billy Turner might play more than he has the last two weeks; Turner filled in at right guard against the Patriots and Chiefs for 25 snaps.
Photos that captured the Broncos' week of preparation for the Raiders in the season finale. (photos by Ben Swanson)