Conclude the NFL season; Grizzlies set margin of victory record: NPR

Scott Simon talks with Meadowlark Media’s Howard Bryant about the NFL’s final stretch of the season, as well as the highs and lows of basketball.


And now for sports.


SIMON: The NFL season is entering its final stretch, while in the NBA, the Suns’ incredible winning streak comes to a halt. And the Oklahoma City Thunder looked a little more like Peeps in a game for the books this week. Joining us is Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media. Hello Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hello, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I’m fine. Thank you my friend.

BRYANT: You’re better than the Thunder.


SIMON: Well, maybe – I might just be for a few minutes. They’re a pretty good team when they’re not dropping by 100 points, but we’ll get to that. NFL season, more than halfway through – six games to go. Let’s start with the AFC. Patriots, Ravens, Titans and the Chiefs – defending conference champions – at the top of their divisions. What has stood out to you so far?

BRYANT: Well, I think the thing that stands out the most – really two things in the AFC. The first is that for the whole league, no one is really good. I think the biggest surprise in the AFC is the Patriots…

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: …the fact that they win. You have a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones, and you’re at the top of your division. You have a huge game Monday night against Buffalo. I think the other big surprise is the fall of the Pittsburgh Steelers. People are watching – finally, is it over for Ben Roethlisberger and this Pittsburgh Steelers streak? I think the vulnerability of the Chiefs – they look very, very human this year. And so no one is as good. Everyone is somehow still there. And we will see. And you have a 17-game season, so you have an extra game this year. So it will be really interesting to see who hangs in there.

SIMON: And the NFC, we have the Cowboys, the pack, the Cards and the Bucs.

BRYANT: Yeah, I think – again, I think everyone – you don’t look this year and say, OK, this is the team to beat. And the Buccaneers are the defending champions, but they – you know, they’re not a great team. It’s a good team. They have Tom Brady. But it’s a good team. It’s a very good team. The Dallas Cowboys were supposed to be better than they are. Then they had some really bad losses. They were destroyed at home by the Denver Broncos. They lost a bad game on Thanksgiving to the Raiders. And so they are not so good.

The surprise team there that you think is really, really good could very well be Arizona, and the Cardinals could be the best team in this 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 are as terrible as they have always been.

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 go to basketball quickly. The Sun’s 18-game winning streak was snapped by the Golden State Warriors last night, 118-96. But there was all the excitement of a championship season, right?

BRYANT: Yeah, fun stuff. Really fun week for basketball just because the Phoenix Suns make it to the NBA Finals. They lost to Milwaukee last year. There is some question as to whether or not this was some sort of surprise appearance in the finale. They are really good. They are really good. They could very well be the best team in the NBA, even though Milwaukee is still very good.

And great to see Golden State again. It’s great to see Steph Curry and Steve Kerr and – Steve Kerr’s team playing really well. You will also recover Klay Thompson. And if you like basketball like me, when it’s the beautiful game, when it’s over, when they move the ball, nobody plays basketball as a team 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 Phoenix does really well is they’re long. They play really well in defense. And, boy, those two teams faced off this week. And if this is a preview of what we’re going to have in the spring…

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: …I completely agree.

SIMON: So five seconds – what happened? – 152-79…

BRYANT: (Laughs).

SIMON: …Seventy-three point lead, Oklahoma City Thunder losing to the Grizzlies.

BRIAN: I don’t know. How to lose by 73 points? All I can say is that’s probably the only time Seattle was happy not to have them.

SIMON: (Laughs) Howard Bryant, thank you very much.

BRYANT: With pleasure, Scott.

Copyright © 2021 NRP. All rights reserved. Visit the Terms of Use and Permissions pages of our website at for more information.

NPR transcripts are created on short notice by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of NPR’s programming is the audio recording.