There are also fanbases remaining in the present despite some serious injuries, offseason departures or startlingly low expectations. The Jets (3-2) have a share of first place. The Bengals (2-3) remain in the hunt despite an 0-3 start. The Rams (3-2) and Vikings (3-2) are playing well above their expected numbers at the moment.
In that spirit, it's time to recognize a few of the coaches and coordinators helping the league's surprise teams -- some of whom could eventually be of interest to fans of teams that have been underperforming in 2017.
-- John Morton, offensive coordinator, New York Jets: Head coach Todd Bowles obviously gets the credit for keeping this team on track after a massive offseason housecleaning. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Darrelle Revis and David Harris were all let go in a matter of months, with many suspecting an outright tank job. Morton, whose name we haven't heard much, also deserves a hearty pat on the back. He's taken a team with little in the way of brand-name talent and constructed a functional offense that, though it doesn't blowing up the box score, accentuates his players' best talents.
One example: In Week 5, quarterback Josh McCown was tied (with Ben Roethlisberger) for second behind Aaron Rodgers in average snap-to-throw time (2.32 seconds), according to Next Gen Stats. The quick throws negate some of the learning curves happening up front. But McCown also leads the league in average air-yards-to-sticks on third down, a stat that shows how often teams are throwing at or beyond the first-down marker. (Essentially, the Jets' gunslinger is typically heaving it comfortably beyond the marker.) The offense, while compact, is doing its job and moving the chains practically.
-- Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals: Lazor has helped orchestrate a two-game turnaround after taking over the job from Ken Zampese. The secret? Accentuating A.J. Green and operating out of the 11 personnel set. A fascinating stat from NFL's Next Gen Stats: Green led the NFL this past week in quarterback passer rating when in press coverage. So, even when Green was jammed at the line, Andy Dalton had a 153.3 passer rating when feeding him the ball.
-- Matt LaFleur, offensive coordinator, Los Angeles Rams: This is Sean McVay's offense, to be sure, but LaFleur is building an impressive track record. SEE: A two-year stint on Kyle Shanahan's staff as Matt Ryan's quarterback coach during one of Ryan's best career stretches and now the offensive coordinator for Jared Goff's breakout season. From McVay himself, speaking to The Associated Press: "So thankful to have him here. He's as responsible as anybody for the success our offense has had. In terms of organizing the game plans, being able to run the meetings, making sure that everything is in alignment on the same page, he does it all. Can't say enough about the contribution he has made to our team."
-- Todd Wash, defensive coordinator, Jacksonville Jaguars: Wash's unit this week forced a 0.0 passer rating when blitzing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- and they blitzed on less than 10 percent of passing plays. Contrast that to a season-opening victory over the Texans where Wash's defense forced quarterback pressures on more than 60 percent of the Texans' snaps. Armed with shutdown corners and a dangerous rolodex of pass rushers, Wash seems like the coach who has finally been able to stack this personnel in the right places.
Four more storylines that will define Week 6:
2) Rookie duo driving Jets: The Jets, who are tied for the second-longest active winning streak in the NFL (!!!), were always going to consider this season a success if they could come out of 2017 having developed first-round pick Jamal Adams and second-round pick Marcus Maye. Through five games, the Jets are 12th against the pass, 11th in getting off the field on third downs and 10th in turnovers. Consider what cornerback Buster Skrine said about the duo on "Good Morning Football" Tuesday:
"Both of them are like vets on the field already. Day 1, they started -- I've seen them carry themselves in the facility and off the field -- it's like they're vets. I give them credit because they've matured so fast."
"Well, Adams primarily plays strong safety and Maye plays more in the deeper part of the field, usually in free safety position. Adams is good in the box and has good strength. Maye has got good ball skills and had a big interception last week in the red area against Cleveland. Yeah, two good, young players."
The Jets have a very challenging remaining schedule (SEE: two games vs. the Pats, as well as contests against Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City and Denver), which might signal an end to this momentary boom. But watching Adams and Maye handle themselves twice against Tom Brady could be as encouraging as this three-game winning streak -- if not more.
3) The Parity Bowl: Think about this week's slate of games and close your eyes. What if I told you the league's No. 2 scoring defense was facing off against the league's No. 2 scoring offense on Sunday? The league's No. 5 passing offense vs. the most prolific pass-rushing unit in football? The NFL's fourth-highest yards-per-play average vs. the fifth-best yards-per-play surrendered?
"Just looking at it from afar, they've got a great defense, they've been able to run the football efficient, and I think [QB Blake] Bortles has made a handful of plays getting guys involved. They do a good job of using the tight ends," Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters Monday. "I know their offensive coordinator, Nate Hackett, really well -- smart offensive mind. [Defensive coordinator] Todd Wash has done a great job with that defense, so it's going to be a great challenge for us. I think you mentioned yesterday, they get a big-time win over a great Pittsburgh Steeler team. But, you look at what they were able to do in London against a very competitive Baltimore team, as well. So, it's a great challenge, and we've got to be ready to go just like any other week."
Is there a pair of teams that typifies the NFL's newfound parity better than the Jaguars and Rams right now? The remaining games will almost certainly bring some gravity to the situation (remember, the Jeff Fisher-led Rams were 3-1 at one point last year), but let's celebrate for a moment a game that, while it features none of the "old guard" stars the league is apparently clinging to, will still be incredibly fun to watch.
4) Can any of the 0-5 teams snap the skid?: A look at the Sunday slate for three teams searching for answers:
-- 49ers at Redskins (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET): Each of the 49ers' last four games have been decided by three points or fewer (the first time a team has lost four straight by three or fewer since the 1994 Oilers). They've taken teams like the Seahawksand Rams deep into games and could do the same against a 2-2 Redskins team still looking for an identity.
-- Cleveland Browns at Houston (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET): The Browns are starting Kevin Hogan under center, allowing struggling rookie DeShone Kizer a chance to sit and collect himself. Cleveland ended up being a trade partner with the Texans this year in a move that allowed Houston to score quarterback Deshaun Watson. Could Watson become another Carson Wentz-ian thorn in the side of Browns management?
5) Steelers' bad timing:Ben Roethlisberger is looking to rebound against the Kansas City Chiefs. Some startling numbers, via NFL Research: Big Ben has a lower completion percentage than Jay Cutler, a lower passer rating than Mike Glennon and more turnovers than Josh McCown. Bob Sutton's versatile Chiefs defense is one of the more formidable units in football. This could be some seriously bad timing for a Pittsburgh team looking to rebound.