Arian Foster's Houston Texans and Matt Ryan's Atlanta Falcons… (Elsa / Getty Images; Susan…)
The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are the two remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, both sitting at 5-0 after close wins in Week 5.
Houston has held off late comeback attempts by the Denver Broncos and New York Jets but has otherwise been basically unchallenged in victories over the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.
After cruising to wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, Broncos and San Diego Chargers, Atlanta has needed fourth-quarter rallies to get its latest two victories, over the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins.
In the next two weeks, the Texans host the Green Bay Packers (2-3) and Baltimore Ravens (4-1) before a bye week. Meanwhile, the Falcons host the Oakland Raiders (1-3) and then get a bye week before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles (3-2).
Writers from around Tribune Co. will predict which of the two teams will lose first. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
Were they to play each other, I’d give the Texans the edge over the Falcons. But Atlanta will hang onto its unblemished record longer, particularly if Houston linebacker Brian Cushing’s knee injury is as serious as it appeared.
Houston has a tougher remaining schedule, with games it could lose Sunday against Green Bay, Nov. 11 at Chicago and Dec. 10 at New England. Of course, there’s also the possibility of another team pulling off an upset, the way the Colts rode a wave of emotion and knocked off the Packers.
Other than division games — and those aren’t gimmes, considering the Falcons almost lost at home to Carolina — Atlanta plays Oakland, at Philadelphia, Dallas, Arizona, the Giants, and at Detroit. It probably won’t happen, but the Falcons can run that table, especially if they maintain their turnover-differential pace. They’re at plus-10, tied with New England for the league lead.
[Updated at 10:17 a.m.:
Aaron Wilson, Baltimore Sun
The small ranks of undefeated NFL teams is about to thin, but not immediately.
The Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons aren't going to lose their first game this month.
The powerhouse Texans will be able to edge out the Ravens, avenging their divisional playoff loss in two weeks. However, they're going to be upset by the Chicago Bears on Nov. 11 at Soldier Field as Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall exploit cornerback Kareem Jackson.
The Falcons are going to lose their first game on that same day, falling to the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome as Matt Ryan is outshined by Drew Brees in a shootout.
Despite these setbacks, these will remain two of the elite teams in the league. However, I still have no faith in Ryan in the postseason.]
[Updated at 12:52 p.m.:
Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The Falcons and Texans are two of the NFL's more balanced and diverse teams.
Both can efficiently run and pass the ball, and each squad is beginning to hit their stride on defense. That explains why those two franchises are the NFL's final undefeated teams. But expect the Falcons to be the last to lose a game.
The Texans play four home games in the next five, but the Packers (2-3), who Houston hosts Sunday night, are a wounded animal looking to regain their national respect. Houston provides that opportunity. Then the Texans host the Ravens (4-1).
Let us not forget that the Texans will likely embark on that difficult stretch without star linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday night's win over the Jets.
The Falcons host Oakland (1-3) before a bye week, and then play at Philadelphia (3-2) before hosting the Cowboys (2-2) and traveling to New Orleans. That's not an easy stretch, but not insurmountable.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
Neither the Texans nor Falcons are the type of team anyone suspects will run the table. So it's probably just a matter of time before each stumbles. Who will lose first might depend more on who they are playing than how they are playing.
The Texans have the rougher stretch of schedule immediately in front of them, so they are the more likely team to fall first. Their first loss could come as quickly as Sunday night when they host the Packers. Of course, the Packers have not been the Packers this year, but they could find themselves at any moment.
And even if the Texans get past the Pack, they get the Ravens the week after that. The Falcons, meanwhile, play the 1-3 Raiders Sunday before being granted a bye.]