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On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling analyzed the encouraging present and the promising future of the Indianapolis Colts

GARY: Colts have a winning streak here, Andy. Their first win streak since 2016. If you count bye weeks, it’s the first time they’ve won in back-to-back weeks since 2015. They beat Buffalo at home last week. They go to Oakland this week and get a 42-28 win, as Andrew Luck looks more and more like Andrew Luck. I wanted to ask you really quick about this Colts run game though. Obviously, they invested a lot of high draft picks up front on this offensive line and we’ve talked about the Raiders’ problems, but the Colts have run the ball well in back-to-back weeks now.

ANDY: Yes they have. We had a lot of fun at Sports Illustrated last year because of the cover that came out in 2014, where we said the Astros would win the World Series in three years. There’s a part of me that wants to float that idea for the Colts—three years from now, maybe two years. It’s only a part of me because I think that’s a stretch. There’s a lot to like about this Colts team though. That offensive line, which has a ton of guys who were drafted in the early second round or first round, is starting to come together and is starting to look like the talented offensive line that it is. Having Anthony Castonzo at left tackle has stabilized things, now we’re seeing why Quenton Nelson at guard was taken sixth overall, Braden Smith at right tackle looks very athletic. If they continue on this trend, they’re going to be the best team in the AFC South by this time next year. Their defense is pretty young in spots too, and I think they’ve overachieved in a lot of areas.

GARY: They’ve really loaded up on raw, athletic guys on that defense and they’re all young and that’s why we all thought they’d struggle this year. And at best, they’ve been up-and-down this season, but you can see why there’s a lot of promise for this roster.

Where are we for the Raiders though? Are they going to win any more games this year? Is it just waving the white flag at this point? They were in this game.

ANDY: If Doug Martin doesn’t fumble in the fourth quarter, it’s a different game. This was a back-and-forth battle all day long and Derek Carr at one point completed 17 balls in a row. He’s a very good seam ball thrower in the red area. Down there near the goalposts, he’s as good as just about anyone working the seams. We saw that. There was a comfortable rhythm in everything he did. Now look, they’re playing a Colts defense that’s not overly talented and tends to be in—I don’t want to say predictable because they’re not predictable, but you do know what their coverages often will be on the back end. Where the Colts challenge you is up front with some of their gap exchange stuff. Guys are slanting and moving around, their linebackers play off of that very well. But Carr navigated all of that very well in this game. I thought this was one of Oakland’s overall best offensive performances.

On defense, they sat about three or four guys who had been starters and they’re playing their young guys, Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. We talked a few weeks ago about whether they should be doing that, and now we’ve gotten our answer. So that, to me, suggests me maybe they are—I mean surely they’re looking at next year, we can tell they’re doing that by the trades they’ve made—but maybe that is starting to impact the way they’re playing. But I thought they were competitive today.

GARY: They also might be showcasing those guys for the upcoming trade deadline, which obviously we will have a chance to talk about on the Deep Dive show on Thursday.

ANDY: If you think Joseph and Conley stink, which they presumably do because they don’t want to play them, would you really want to put them out there and showcase them or just say, “Yeah he’s our first round corner, remember? What was your grade on him coming out of the draft?” And see if someone will give you a second or third for him, like the deal they did with Amari Cooper.

GARY: I would put them out there on the field because I think everyone all season was sitting back saying, “Wow, something must be horribly wrong with Karl Joseph. They know him better than we know him.”

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On this week’s edition of The Monday Morning Podcast:

1:50—How the Packers D stepped up, how the Rams survived, and why Ty Montgomery’s return was a terrible idea regardless of the fumble

12:42—Saints take advantage of all those Vikings mistakes, the Great Taysom Hill controversy

18:45—Wentz lights it up in London, while Jaguars limp away

27:01—Trubisky shows signs of improvement, Darnold still promising by has a ways to go

33:39—Colts show they’re building toward something with second straight win

39:36—Bucs have a decision on Jameis Winston, Bengals nearly blow game by playing like cowards in second half

45:31— LIGHNING(ish) ROUND!
• Cam Newton and Carolina torch vaunted Ravens D
• Lions give it away, can’t stop Seahawks ground game
• Mahomes get sloppy but has move than enough to beat Broncos
• Browns continue to fall apart, get rolled by Steelers in Pittsburgh
• Washington gets a lead and hold it again for win No. 5
• Cardinals actually use Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, score comeback win

55:13— Andy and Gary each pick their “Thing of the Week” awards

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