LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -In his nine seasons, safety Mike Brown has seen the Chicago Bears reach the Super Bowl and make two other playoff appearances.
But the most talented team?
``I think this is the best team we've had in the years I've been here as far as offense, special teams and defense,'' he said.
It might also be the toughest to figure.
They're 4-3 heading into a bye and share the NFC North lead with Green Bay after a 48-41 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, but getting a grip on this team is not easy.
A group that prides itself on defense ranks 16th overall and 29th against the pass. Meanwhile, the Bears have scored 196 points - more than any other team.
That's right, Chicago leads the league in scoring.
ot two field goals by Robbie Gould. Kyle Orton threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and by the time it was over, Chicago had its highest point total since a 48-14 win over Tampa Bay on Dec. 7, 1986.
The problem is the Bears had never allowed so many points in a victory.
``The defense has had to carry the team (in the past), but now, it's not like that, which is obviously a blessing, especially the way that the defense is playing,'' Brown said.
The defense vowed to return to the dominant form it showed in the 2005 and 2006 seasons after being torn apart by injuries last year, but that hasn't happened.
The Bears allowed 439 yards against Minnesota and got shredded by Adrian Peterson, who ran for 121 and two touchdowns.
``Their offense got a couple extra series by us scoring with the special teams,'' coach Lovie Smith said.
Even so, defensive end Alex Brown said, ``Our defense played horrible.''
One thing it did right was intercept Gus Frerotte four times even though starting cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman and nickel back Danieal Manning missed the game because of injuries. That list continued to grow Sunday.
Rookie Zackary Bowman recovered a muffed punt in the end zone in the second quarter and sealed the win with an interception in the closing minute, an impressive debut for the fifth-round pick from Nebraska. But it might be his last appearance for a while.
Bowman suffered a biceps injury and is expected to have surgery within the next few weeks. His status for the rest of the season will be determined after the operation.
Cornerback Corey Graham got knocked woozy on Sunday, while the status of Vasher and Tillman remains in question.
Vasher sat out his third straight game with a right wrist injury, and Tillman joined him on the sideline after banging his left shoulder the previous week against Atlanta. Vasher also had an excused absence Sunday for personal reasons and was not at Soldier Field.
``Nate hasn't been ready,'' Smith said. ``We thought he would be able to (play), but it hasn't worked out that way. We think the next time we play, he'll be ready to go but we've been trying to get him better.''
And Tillman?
``I'm hoping he will be,'' Smith said. ``That's why I shouldn't try to be Dr. Smith. I'm asked a question (and) I really don't know. I hope he'll be back. I hope most of our players will be. I don't think we have any serious injuries. We're getting as much treatment as we can. This extra week without a hard game to play should help us.''
One player who might benefit from the bye is Hester, who left Sunday's game in the third quarter. He said he was ``feeling a lot better'' and expects to be ready for the Lions.
``I've got a lot of confidence in what the trainer's doing,'' he said.

Recent NFL Discussions

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Pats Will Be SB Favorites Regardless If you're wondering what the point spreads would be for Super Bowl LII depending on which teams advance on Championship Sunday, here you...
Thumbnail Patriots Favored to Win SB LII It won't be surprising to read that the Patriots are favored to win Super Bowl LII entering Championship Sunday in the NFL. But how do the rest of the teams stack up...
Thumbnail Most Passing Yards Prop Odds Will Tom Brady record the most passing yards in the Conference Championship games this Sunday?
Thumbnail NFC Championship Game Spread Moves The point spread in Sunday's NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles has moved off a key number.
Thumbnail Bettors Split on NFC Title Game After the Eagles upset a public favorite last weekend in the Divisional Round, public bettors are split on whether or not Philly will thrive in the dog role again...

NFL Team Pages