CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Fist vs. Fist.
The Broncos face Atlanta on Sunday, a previously pedestrian matchup made fascinating by a new wrinkle. Atlanta soared against Carolina. Receiver Julio Jones netted 300 receiving yards -- sixth all time -- in a win over the Panthers. The Falcons vs. the No Fly Zone?
This could be fun.
"It fires us up to compete against the best. And Julio and (quarterback) Matt Ryan are the best right now," Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said.
Jones grabbed the NFL spotlight with his performance. He needed just 12 catches to reach 300 yards. Ryan continues to rebound after a dismal 2015 season. He connected on 27 of 38 passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns. Yet, he hasn't faced a defense like Denver's. In consecutive weeks, the Broncos have stymied Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston Opposing quarterbacks own a 61.3 passer rating, worst in the league. Denver also allows 5.58 yards per attempt, a league low.
"When we get a lead and know what you are going to do, it's a wrap," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said.
The Broncos' five interceptions -- three from Talib -- rank third overall. The secondary works in concert with a relentless pass rush. The Broncos lead the NFL with 17 sacks and 41 quarterback hits, 14 more than the next closest team.
Green, Stephenson make progress
Tight end Virgil Green can't hide his frustration. He is tired of watching because of a strained left calf. He could practice Wednesday on a limited basis.
"I feel much better than I did the last two weeks," Green said. "It kind of has to be time (to play Sunday). I lose my mind doing treatment."
Stephenson, whose left calf strain was more severe than Green's, is making progress. He didn't rule out playing this week. Ty Sambrailo started in his place and showed improvement in the second half.
- The Broncos players of the week as voted on by coaches: Russell Okung, Demaryius Thomas (offense), Derek Wolfe, Talib (defense) and Dekoda Watson (special teams).
- Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said an X-Ray showed his broken right forearm is healing on schedule. He hopes to return to practice next week and play, if all goes as planned, against Houston on Oct. 24.
- Cornerback Kayvon Webster (hamstring) is expected to miss practice Wednesday, but should be ready to go on Thursday. He remains one of the Broncos' most important special teams player.
- Ware spent 20 minutes going over pass moves with Shane Ray in the locker room Monday, again showing his value as a leader and mentor.
- Ray was not happy with the Bucs. He got into it with a Tampa Bay player in the fourth quarter. "Our thing was, why do you want to try and be chippy in the last two minutes and you could've been that way the whole game? That's weak to me. Their center tried me, and I slammed it. Don't wait until the last two minutes to try to be a tough guy."