It's really happening. The NFL is sticking to its guns, strong-arming the Denver Broncos to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday without an active quarterback.
Undrafted rookie wideout Kendall Hinton — who's spent this season on the Broncos' practice squad — will start at quarterback against the 8-2 Saints. I have no idea what's going to happen but my intuition tells me it won't be good.
Nevertheless, we've got a game to watch and analyze. Join us as we live-blog and discuss NOvsDEN here in our weekly Open Thread. Dive into the conversation — it's easy — by simply going to the top of the site and in the bottom right-hand corner of the Mile High Huddle logo, click the follow button.
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What to Watch For
TE Noah Fant: Needs 16 receiving yards to become the first Broncos tight end to reach 1,000 yards for his career by his 26th game.
RB Melvin Gordon: Needs 40 receiving yards to reach 2,000 receiving yards in his career.
K Brandon McManus: Needs one 50+yard field goal to set a new team single-season record.
S Justin Simmons: Needs one interception to become the second Bronco to record 16 picks during his first five seasons with the team (since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger).
Broncos to receive.
First play, a direct snap to Phillip Lindsay for one yard.
Lindsay pops off a 14-yard gain on second down.
Lindsay with another direct snap for three yards.
Royce Freeman enters at quarterback, rushes for a 4-yard gain.
On third down, Hinton throws it away. Punt.
Saints start with two runs. Latavius Murray picks up four yards while Alvin Kamara picks up six.
On first down, Taysom Hill fires incomplete to Michael Thomas. A.J. Bouye in coverage.
On second down, Hill runs and picks up three yards.
Hill flagged for delay of game. Brings up 3rd-&-12.
DeMarcus Walker sacks Hill. Saints will punt.
A reverse goes to KJ Hamler but he's forced out of bounds for a 3-yard loss.
Lindsay up the gut on second down. Nothing doing.
On third down, Hinton goes deep for Jerry Jeudy and Marshon Lattimore almost picks it off. Punt.
Alexander Johnson forces a Murray fumble but New Orleans recovers.
On 3rd-&-5, Hill is flushed, tries to climb the pocket and walks right into Bradley Chubb. Sack.
Saints punt 57 yards to the Broncos' 15-yard line. Fair catch by Bryce Callahan.
On first down, Lindsay is stuffed for no gain. The same on second.
On 3rd-&-10, Hinton drops back to pass, breaks the pocket and scrambles for 5-yard gain.
Broncos' defense forces Saints into another three-and-out. On third down, Hill hits Thomas but is tackled short of the sticks by Callahan.
On 4th-&-1, Saints stay out there and Dre'Mont Jones jumps on the Hill hard-count. New set of downs.
Murray picks up seen yards on first down.
On 2nd-&-3, Kamara bursts for 15 yards.
End of Quarter
Broncos 0, Saints 0
The Saints are moving the ball on the ground with Kamara and Murray.
On 2nd-&-7, Murray gets to the 1-yard line.
On 3rd-&-Goal from the 1-yard line, Hill runs the read/option and walks to the corner of the end zone. Touchdown. Extra point is good.
Saints 7, Broncos 0
Trying to get something going, the Broncos hand off to Melvin Gordon, who picks up one yard.
On 2nd-&-9, Hinton throws incomplete, almost picked off by Janoris Jenkins.
On 3rd-&-9, Hinton throws the slant from the pocket but it's way wide of Tim Patrick's grasp. Incomplete. Broncos will punt.
Hinton is now 0-for-4 passing because he's a wide receiver.
Sam Martin punts 47 yards to the Saints' 27-yard line.
Murray picks up 12 yards on first and second down, moving the chains. Broncos struggling to stop the run now.
Kamara picks up one yard on first down.
On 2nd-&-9, Saints try to run a screen but Broncos sniff it out and Hill throws incomplete. Saints flagged for ineligible man downfield.
Broncos decline the penalty.
On 3rd-&-9, Hill dumps off to Kamara but Malik Reed tackles him for a 2-yard loss. Punt.
Callahan fair catches as the Broncos' 25-yard line.
Lindsay stuffed for a 1-yard loss on first down.
On 2nd-&-11, Hinton goes deep for Fant. Incomplete.
Hinton scrambles on third down, fires incomplete. In the dirt. Garett Bolles flagged for holding. Saints decline it.
Broncos get the Saints off the field on three plays after a holding foul puts New Orleans way behind the sticks.
Thomas Morstead's punt goes 38 yards to the Broncos' 36-yard line. Fair caught by Callahan.
Gordon picks up six yards on first down.
Lloyd Cushenberry botches the direct snap to Lindsay, Saints recover but Bolles makes a touchdown-saving tackle.
New Orleans makes the Broncos pay for the botched snap, driving on a short field and punching it in with another Hill rushing touchdown. Extra point is good.
Saints 14, Broncos 0
Hinton picked off by Jenkins and Saints get a field goal to walk off the field at halftime up 17-0.
Saints 17, Broncos 0
End of half
Saints 17, Broncos 0
Saints receive third-quarter kick.
Broncos force a three-and-out.
Hinton completes his first pass, a 13-yard gain.
Two plays later, Hinton is picked off by CJ Gardner-Johnson. Saints have the ball at the Broncos' 44-yard line.
Hill picked off by Essang Bassey after A.J. Bouye breaks up the pass. Broncos finally catch a break and cross the 50-yard line.
KJ Hamler stuffed for a loss on another reverse on third down.
McManus hits the 58-yard field goal to get the Broncos on the board.
Saints 17, Broncos 3
McManus is now the Broncos' record holder for most field goals from 50-plus yards in a single season.
Lindsay has been ruled out with a knee injury.
Saints are rolling with that ground game again. Kamara, Murray, and Hill make for a dangerous rushing trio.
On 3rd-&-1, Hill gets the QB sneak and moves the chains. First down from the Saints' 42-yard line.
Hill runs for 17 yards on a designed QB power.
One play later, Murray takes it to the house from 36 yards out after Walker misses the tackle and Justin Simmons abandons the B-gap. Extra point is good.
Saints 24, Broncos 3
Freeman has effectively taken over as the Broncos' QB on first and second down. Hinton comes in on third down to at least present the plausible threat of a pass.
Hinton sacked on 3rd-&-12 by Cameron Jordan. Punt.
The Broncos are just getting pushed around by the Saints on the ground.
Murray punches through for his second touchdown of the day, punctuating an 11-play, 77-yard drive by the Saints. Extra point is good but Saints flagged for holding.
No play. The following attempt from 10 yards back is good.
Saints 31, Broncos 3
Bryce Callahan has an injured foot and will not return. That's a scary development considering his history with foot injuries.
Broncos go three-and-out with three consecutive direct snaps to Freeman. Punt.
Jameis Winston takes over for Hill.