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Saturday Sports: NFL Thanksgiving; college football; Oscar Pistorius granted parole

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's a holiday weekend. It's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Thanksgiving football - who got the turkey leg? Who got the turkey? Well, you know, college football rivalry this weekend. A disgraced Olympic athlete granted parole from prison. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Happy Thanksgiving. Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Also to you, my friend. Hope you and all are well. Green Bay Packers kind of surprisingly defeated the suddenly great Detroit Lions. But Cowboys, 49ers, Dolphins all won. The main course maybe tomorrow - Philadelphia Eagles, maybe the best team in the league, host the Buffalo Bills, who are very good but not as consistently good as, let's say, Susan Stamberg's cranberry horseradish relish.

BRYANT: That's right.

SIMON: We're almost reached December, Howard. What do you make of the season now?

BRYANT: Yeah, it's separation. It's separation time, Scott. It's actually my favorite time of the year in the NFL when you think about, this is where we find out who's built for the long haul, even though they added an extra game, 17-game season. But still, once you get past Thanksgiving, you find out who's really good enough to win a championship and which teams are, like, it kind of hurts getting hit this hard when it's so cold outside. And so I think obviously, the teams to beat - Philadelphia, Kansas City. They played for the championship last year in the Super Bowl. They played each other last week. They're the best. You got to love the AFC because you got Miami - really good team; Kansas City - championship team; Baltimore - don't forget them, really good team. Then you've got two teams that are really sort of disappointing - not disappointing, kind of a little weird.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And Buffalo - absolutely supposed to be much better; Jacksonville - great surprise. NFC - same thing. San Francisco is back. Dallas is really, really good. It's - there's a lot of teams out there. About eight teams or so I think probably believe they could win.

SIMON: Ohio State versus Michigan today - what's at stake?

BRYANT: Well, everything's at stake. What I love about this is that usually when you get to the end of the month, it's all set up. We already know who's going to be in. We know for the College Football Playoff. But you got about eight teams this year. And let's not forget that Georgia is trying to do a three-peat. They're trying to win three straight championships. I feel bad for Florida State. They lose Jordan Travis, the great quarterback, and so they might be on the outside. But everyone's got to be perfect. Obviously, when you've got Ohio State and Michigan, you've got, you know, Michigan against the world with all of their scandal and everything else, and you've got a huge rivalry there in the first place. But Ohio State has been a great team all year. The last time they went to the championship, they got destroyed by Alabama. So those Big Ten teams have something to prove when they get on the big stage. But let's also not forget you've got a couple of teams that if they get some help - Texas, Oregon, Alabama - they all have a shot. So suddenly, like the NFL, you've got some really interesting stuff happening at the end of the year when normally in college football it's Alabama, Alabama, Georgia and the SEC dominance. Not so much this year.

SIMON: Oscar Pistorius has been granted a parole after 10 years in prison, convicted of culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. What do we know?

BRYANT: Well, we know that he's going to be released on January 5. I think it's a - when you read the stories and you follow this story from the United States, it seems incredibly lenient. And I think even some of the South Africans felt the same thing. Serving half of a sentence for essentially murder is light. And when the United - you know, from our perspective looking at it, it certainly seems like Oscar Pistorius was given very much the benefit of the doubt in terms of his rehabilitation.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. 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 record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.