The Chicago Bears started the season 2-3, and a big reason was their inconsistent play at the safety position.
Second-year safety Major Wright struggled to begin the year and was eventually benched.
Former starter Chris Harris had a hurt hamstring and was never like his Second Team All-Pro self.
Free-agent pickup Brandon Meriweather does not stay in his zones and blows many coverages.
After the Bears unloaded Harris and benched Meriweather, the team has gone back to Wright and added rookie Chris Conte to the fold.
Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, the Bears defense has improved noticeably and has forced 12 turnovers.
Both Conte and Wright have an interception since taking over as starting safeties.
With Conte and Wright stabilizing the safety position, the Bears defense has gelled perfectly and will be a tough unit for opposing offenses to overcome.
The Chicago Bears have an amazing special teams unit for the past few years, and 2011 is no different.
Kick and punt returner Devin Hester shows week in and week out why he's the greatest returner of all-time. Hester has 734 return yards and three touchdowns this season.
Hester had an 83-yard beauty against the Detroit Lions while he was recovering from a high-ankle sprain and suffering from the flu.
Punter Adam Podlesh, who was brought this offseason to replace 10-year Bear Brad Maynard, has been stellar in the field position battle. Podlesh has 48 punts for 2,040, good for a 42.8-yard average.
The coverage teams have also produced, with cornerback Zachary Bowman forcing Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson to fumble a punt. Wide receiver Sam Hurd recovered the ball at the Eagles 9-yard line and it led to a two-yard touchdown run by running back Marion Barber.
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is definitely one of the elite offensive players in the NFL
Forte beats defenses on the ground and through the air. He has 1,308 yards of total offense, only trailing Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson by a yard for the most in the NFL.
His total yardage equals 44.3 percent of the Bears' offense.
After starting slow for the Bears, Forte has averaged 125 rushing yards a game.
Forte has a great awareness of where his offensive line is breaking open holes and can slightly change direction in mid-stride to make tacklers miss.
Forte is the type of difference maker that opposing defenses game plan around and opens up opportunities for his teammates.
For the last couple years, the Chicago Bears have had a horrible offensive line as quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked 92 times.
Cutler's line was really bad the three games as No. 6 was pounded for 14 more sacks and the running game struggled with running back Matt Forte having 119 rushing yards.
However, the offensive line has stepped up for the Bears, being a key ingredient in Chicago's 5-1 run.
With Lance Louis shifting to right tackle and Chris Spencer starting at right guard, the Bears have allowed only nine more sacks and Forte has averaged 125 yards a game.
The offensive line probably lost left guard Chris Williams for the season with a wrist injury, the Bears will count on reserve Edwin Williams to fill in. Edwin Williams did an admirable job in protecting Cutler against a ferocious Detroit Lions defensive line.
If the offensive line plays strong, the Bears will continue to win.
Out of any other NFC team, the Chicago Bears consistently play the Green Bay Packers tough.
The Super Bowl champion Packers have beaten the Bears three times in a row, but the total margin of victory was 24 points.
With the Bears defense masking blitzes and zone coverage well, the unit has been able to contain Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers well, including to a 55.4 passer rating in last year's NFC Championship game.
Chicago lost to the Packers 27-17 in Week 3, and that was mainly due to the Bears' having a poor offensive line and safety play.
Now, the Bears have strengthened those two aspects and look primed to compete with the Packers again in another possible playoff matchup.
If there is any NFC team that could beat the Packers, the Bears could fit that bill.