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Mailbag: Brandon Marshall, O-Line changes, AFC West and more

This and every Friday throughout the regular season is Mailbag Day. If you want to get into next week's edition, there's four ways to do it:

As always, unusual queries are welcome.

During the preseason, he did. Against the Texans, the Broncos paired him with Nate Irving when they went into their nickel alignment. But Marshall had been working in nickel sub packages before Danny Trevathan's injury. This helped smooth his transition into the every-down role; his communication with fellow first-teamers was already at a high level.

Realistically, I think you should worry about a Week 1 opponent who went 11-5 last year, won a playoff game and defeated the Broncos last year. And then you should worry about a Week 2 opponent that also went 11-5 last year, was tied with the Broncos for first place heading into Week 13 and came within an end-zone pass deflection of sending their game with Denver last December into overtime.

Although Kansas City finished in second place in the AFC West last year, San Diego seems poised to provide the stiffest challenge this year. They built momentum at the end of the season, have already proven that they can play on equal terms with the Broncos -- a regular-season split last year in which the collective score was Broncos 48, Chargers 47 reveals a virtual stalemate -- and in Philip Rivers, they have the crucial component to any viable title shot: an elite quarterback. Rivers is 6-3 as a starter in Denver, including last year's postseason. In head-to-head matchups with Peyton Manning-led teams, the record is split: five wins apiece.

Kansas City also presents some problems. Its pass rush, when at full strength, forces opponents to keep a tight end in to block, and Jamaal Charles has averaged 106.7 yards per game and 5.66 yards per carry against the Broncos since January 2010.But the short- and long-term results -- along with former Broncos assistant Mike McCoy's insider knowledge of the Broncos' roster and style -- tip the scale toward San Diego. The Chargers also swept the Chiefs last year (although in the second meeting, the Chiefs used backups, having already locked in their playoff position).

It's not whether it "has been" an upgrade; it's whether it "will be." Remember that Franklin is replacing a Pro Bowl left guard (Zane Beadles). What you want to see is progress, improvement and adjustment to having contact from an opposing defensive lineman arrive faster than it did at tackle. So far, I've seen that from Franklin, particularly in terms of hand placement. He improved during each game in the preseason, and if that progress continues, he can at least replicate Beadles' work there.

With Clark, it's important to note that this is his first extensive game work at right tackle in college or the pros; he was a left tackle at Southern Missisippi. But there was a clear improvement from game to game this preseason. His strongest work came against Houston in the third week. So his arrow is pointed in the right direction.

@MaseDenver Can you fast forward the time to the start of SNF? I don't know what else to do. #askmase — Bryan Leeper (@b2theryan) September 4, 2014

I can't fast-forward the time. However, I can let you borrow the DeLorean from the garage. But I'm fresh out of plutonium, so you'll have to supply that on your own.

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