Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud celebrates after recovering a fumble in… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss which of the NFL's unbeaten (Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons) and winless (Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints) teams will remain that way the longest.
Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the polls and leaving a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
Atlanta will stay undefeated the longest, and Cleveland will go the longest without a win.
Let’s start with the undefeated teams -- Atlanta, Arizona and Houston. Arizona has the least experience at quarterback, and Houston has a track record of losing key players to injury. Barring a letdown, the Cardinals should win the next four games before playing San Francisco. Houston’s biggest upcoming challenge is in mid-October, with consecutive home games against the Packers and Baltimore. I’m putting my money on Matt Ryan, all those offensive weapons, and a defense that held San Diego to three points at home.
The two winless teams are Cleveland and New Orleans. The Saints are capable of winning any game, as long as their defense shows up. That’s going to happen at some point, if only for a Sunday. In late October, New Orleans plays at Tampa Bay and at Denver in successive weeks. The Saints will win one of those. The Browns, meanwhile, have a rookie quarterback and a very tough stretch ahead. While it’s always possible they could pull off a shocker -- and they do play at Indianapolis on Oct. 21 -- it’s entirely conceivable they could carry a winless record into December.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
I never thought I’d be writing this, but the team that might remain unblemished the longest could be the Arizona Cardinals. Their 3-0 record is more impressive than the 3-0 records of the Falcons and Texans because the Cardinals have beaten better teams -- the Seahawks, Patriots and Eagles. And the Cardinals should be heavy favorites in at least their next three games, against the Dolphins, Rams and Vikings.
The team that could be the last remaining team without a win is the Browns. Their only competition is the Saints because every other team already has won at least a game. The Saints are completely out of sync, but clearly are a better team than the rebuilding Browns. It won’t get better any time soon for the Browns, who get the Ravens and Giants next.
Aaron Wilson, Baltimore Sun
The ranks of the undefeated in the NFL are thin, a trio of unblemished squads: the Texans, Falcons and Cardinals.
The Texans will be the last to fall and lose their first game. Arian Foster is on a tear. Matt Schaub is obviously tough as nails. And J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing are a formidable tandem of mayhem.
The Cardinals are much improved, but eventually reality will kick in. The Falcons are tough, especially quarterback Matt Ryan throwing to Roddy White and Julio Jones, while the defense could falter.
Meanwhile, the reeling Saints will have trouble picking up their first victory. Their next three games are against the Packers, Chargers and Buccaneers.
The Browns will lose to the Ravens and Giants, but an upset special could be brewing Oct. 14 against the Bengals.