Longest losing streaks in sports history: How Pistons’ NBA record compares to NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA

The 2023-24 Pistons are knocking on the door of infamy.

Detroit has lost 27 games in a row, setting the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. The longest overall losing streak in NBA history belongs to “The Process” 76ers, who lost 28 games in a row from the end of the 2014 season into the start of the 2015 season.

Only two games away from owning the longest NBA losing streak of all time, the Pistons have fans of other sports wondering what the longest losing streak is in their favorite leagues.

The Sporting News dives into the longest losing streaks in NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA football and NCAA basketball history below.

MORE: Revisiting “The Process” 76ers teams who made the wrong kind of NBA history

Longest losing streak in NFL history

It’s worth noting that there is a crossover in fan bases between this struggling Pistons team and those who support the Detroit Lions, who went 0-16 during the 2008 NFL season. However, the Lions’ 19-straight losses from 2007 to 2009 aren’t close to the longest losing streak in NFL history.

Chicago Cardinals: 29 games, 1942-1945

The Chicago Cardinals own the NFL’s longest losing streak at 29 games over four seasons. The Cardinals (who later became the St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals and now, Arizona Cardinals) ended the 1942 season on a six-game losing streak before posting back-to-back 0-10 seasons in 1943 and 1944.

The Cardinals started the 1945 season with three consecutive losses to extend the streak to 29 games before finally picking up its first win over the Chicago Bears. The Cardinals went on to lose the remaining six games of the season, finishing 1-9 while losing 34 out of 35 games over four years.

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Longest NFL losing streak in recent history

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 26 games, 1976-1977

In the last 50 years, the expansion-team Buccaneers own the longest NFL losing streak at 26 games. They went 0-14 in their inaugural season in 1976 and started the 1977 season 0-12 before winning the final two games of the year.

Jacksonville Jaguars: 20 games, 2020-2021

Even more recently, the Jaguars started the COVID-impacted 2020 season with a victory before rattling off 15 consecutive losses to close the year. Their misfortunes landed them franchise QB Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the star rookie began his career 0-5 to extend Jacksonville’s losing streak to 20 games.

Longest losing streak in MLB history

Louisville Colonels: 26 games, 1889

Way back when, the Louisville Colonels set MLB’s longest losing streak, dropping 26 consecutive games during the 1889 season. They finished the year with a 27-111 record, which is the third-worst in MLB history by win percentage.

Longest MLB losing streak in recent history

Detroit Tigers: 19 games, 1975

The 1975 Tigers didn’t start the season so horribly, rattling off nine straight wins at one point. They were a modest 46-55 before things went off the rails, losing 19 consecutive games. Detroit finished the season 57-102.

Kansas City Royals: 19 games, 2005

The 2005 Royals was the peak of some of Kansas City’s darkest days as a franchise, recording three consecutive 100-loss seasons from 2004 to 2006. They were already 25 games under .500 when they lost 19 games in a row, finishing the season a league-worst 56-106.

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Longest losing streak in NHL history

The Penguins and Sabres are tied in NHL infamy, losing 18 consecutive games in 2004 and 2021, respectively.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 18 games, 2003-04

Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux was limited to 10 games into the 2003-04 campaign and the team couldn’t overcome the absence of its best player. It lost 18 games in a row, recording just one point for an overtime loss in that span.

The 2003-04 Penguins finished with a 23-47-8-4 record but their misfortunes landed them superstar Evgeni Malkin in the 2004 NHL Draft, who went on to win three Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh.

Buffalo Sabres: 18 games, 2020-21

In a somewhat similar fashion, Buffalo lost its star player Jack Eichel to a neck injury 21 games into the COVID-shortened season. The Sabres lost 18 games in a row that year, recording three points over that span for one overtime loss and two shootout losses.

Buffalo finished the season 15-34-7 and drafted defenseman Owen Power with the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Longest losing streak in NCAA football history

Northwestern: 34 games, 1979-1982

There was a six-season span from 1976 to 1981 where Northwestern football did not record more than one win in a season, going a combined 3-62-1 with three winless campaigns.

Northwestern started the 1979 season with a 1-1 record but would go on to lose 34 consecutive games spanning three seasons. It finished the 1979 season with nine straight losses, then went 0-11 in back-to-back seasons in 1980 and 1981. The losing streak carried into the 1982 season where they dropped three straight, but that Wildcats team finished 3-8.

Head coach Dennis Green was actually voted Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1982 for leading Northwestern to three wins after two consecutive winless seasons.

Prairie View A&M owns the longest losing streak in FBS history, losing 80 consecutive games over a decade from 1989 to 1998.

Longest losing streak in NCAA basketball history

Chicago State (Women’s): 59 games, 2016-2018

The Chicago State Lady Cougars closed the 2015-16 season on a seven-game losing streak, went 0-29 during the 2016-17 season, then started the 2017-18 season on a 24-game losing streak for 59 consecutive losses.

They finally snapped the streak against Utah Valley in 2018, but went on to lose their remaining six games to finish a combined 1-58 over the span of two seasons.

Towson (Men’s): 41 games, 2011-2012

The Towson Tigers closed the 2010-11 season on a 19-game losing streak, then opened the 2011-12 season on a 22-game losing streak for 41 consecutive losses.

They picked up a win over UNC Wilmington to snap the streak in 2012 but went on to lose the final nine games of the season to finish the year 1-31.

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