Scott Simon speaks with Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media about the NFL season’s homestretch, plus basketball highs and lows.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it’s time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: The NFL season heads into the homestretch, while in the NBA, the Suns’ incredible winning streak is broken. And the Oklahoma City Thunder looked a little more like Peeps in a game for the books this week. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Good morning, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?
SIMON: I’m fine. Thank you, my friend.
BRYANT: You’re better than the Thunder.
SIMON: Well, maybe – I may be for just, you know, a few passing minutes. They’re a pretty good team when they’re not losing by 100 points, but we’ll get to that. NFL season, more than halfway over – six games left. Let’s start with the AFC. Patriots, Ravens, Titans and the Chiefs – defending conference champs – atop their divisions. What’s stood out to you so far?
BRYANT: Well, I think the thing that sticks out most – really two things in the AFC. One is that for the whole league, nobody’s really that good. I think the biggest surprise in the AFC is the Patriots…
BRYANT: …The fact that they are winning. You’ve got a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones, and you are atop your division. You’ve got a huge game Monday night against Buffalo. I think the other big surprise is the fall of the Pittsburgh Steelers. People are looking at – finally, is it over for Ben Roethlisberger and this run of the Pittsburgh Steelers? I think the vulnerability of the Chiefs – they look very, very human this year. And so nobody’s that good. Everybody is sort of still there. And we’ll see. And you’ve got a 17-game season, so you do have an extra game this year. So it’ll be real interesting to see who hangs in there.
SIMON: And the NFC, we’ve got the Cowboys, the Pack, the Cards and the Bucs.
BRYANT: Yeah, I think that – once again, I think that everybody – you don’t look at this year and you say, OK, they’re the team to beat. And the Buccaneers are the defending champions, but they – you know, they’re not a great team. They’re a good team. They’ve got Tom Brady. But they’re a good team. They’re a very good team. The Dallas Cowboys were supposed to be better than they are. Then they had a couple of really bad losses. They got destroyed at home by the Denver Broncos. They lost a bad game on Thanksgiving to the Raiders. And so they are not that good.
The surprise team there that you think is really, really good may very well be Arizona, and the Cardinals might be the best team in that conference. You thought the Rams were going to be better than they are. So the bottom line with the NFL is, No. 1, nobody really stands out as a team to beat. But, Scott Simon, like death, taxes, everything else, the Lions haven’t won a game. They’re just as terrible as they’ve always been in this.
SIMON: They’re even worse than the Bears.
BRYANT: Just bad – 16-game season, 17-game season, they’re still 0-10-1.
SIMON: Let’s get basketball quickly. The Sun’s 18-game winning streak snapped by the Golden State Warriors last night, 118-96. But it had all the excitement of a championship season, didn’t it?
BRYANT: Yeah, fun stuff. Really fun week for basketball simply because the Phoenix Suns get to the NBA Finals. They lose to Milwaukee last year. There’s a question as to whether or not this was sort of a surprise finals appearance. They’re really good. They’re really good. They may very well be the best team in the NBA, even though Milwaukee’s still really good.
And great to see Golden State back. Great to see Steph Curry and Steve Kerr and – Steve Kerr’s team playing really great. You’re going to get Klay Thompson back as well. And if you like basketball like I do, when it’s the beautiful game, when it’s passed, when they’re moving the ball, nobody plays team basketball like Golden State. And it looks like we’re going to have a really good rivalry this year between Phoenix and Golden State because the one thing that Phoenix really does well is that they’re long. They play really good defense. And, boy, those two teams played each other this week. And if that’s a preview of what we’re going to get come springtime…
BRYANT: …I’m all for it.
SIMON: So five seconds – what happened? – 152-79…
SIMON: …Seventy-three point margin, Oklahoma City Thunder losing to the Grizzlies.
BRYANT: I don’t know. How do you lose by 73 points? All I can say is it’s probably the one time that Seattle was glad that they didn’t have them.
SIMON: (Laughter) Howard Bryant, thanks so much.
BRYANT: My pleasure, Scott.
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