When every Philadelphia Eagles fan circled this Sunday's game against former quarterback Donovan McNabb on their schedules, they either hoped or assumed that the team would have a 2-1 record going into Week 4.
Kevin Kolb and the defense would struggle against the NFC favorite Green Bay Packers, but bounce back to beat two bad teams (Lions and Jaguars).
The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-1, but there was a slight change in plans: Michael Vick.
Not only is this a divisional game. Not only is this Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia.
But Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins is also crucial if the Philadelphia Eagles hope to make the playoffs.
It is nice to look at the 16-game season in quarters. The NFL may strip us of this ability next year with an 18-game season.
The completion of Sunday's game will mark the end of the first quarter for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let's assume that Michael Vick's success continues and Philadelphia defeats Washington. The Eagles will have a 3-1 record going into Week 5.
Here are the next four games: at 49ers, Falcons, Titans, Bye, Colts
Besides the first quarter of the season, this quarter is the easiest it will get for the Eagles.
Even though the San Francisco 49ers are struggling, they are still a dangerous team. It is a far trip for the team and the game is on a Sunday night. Also, the 49ers still may be winless and that means desperate.
The Falcons just defeated the defending Super Bowl champions in New Orleans. A win against Michael Vick's old team will be no easy task.
Tennessee has Chris Johnson. The Eagles defense has not necessarily shut down the running game this season.
The Eagles always struggle against Peyton Manning. The last two games against the Colts have both been 20-plus-point losses.
3-1 would be impressive, really impressive. Eagles MUST go 2-2.
Assuming a win against Washington this Sunday, the Eagles will most likely be 5-3 going into Week 10.
The third quarter of the 2010 Eagles' schedule: at Redskins, Giants, at Bears, Texans
These four games will depict how the Eagles stack up against the rest of the league.
The Eagles should sweep the Donovan McNabb season series, but it will not be easy. Last year on Monday Night Football, Philadelphia escaped with a win in a very sloppy game.
The New York Giants have been very inconsistent this year. It will be important for the Eagles to defeat the Giants while at home in a tough divisional game.
Chicago impressed a lot of people on Monday night by defeating the Green Bay Packers. However, it was mostly due to dumb penalties and costly turnovers. This road game will be meaningful to the Eagles' wild card hopes.
The Thursday night game against the Houston Texans may be an old-fashioned shootout. It will be hard for the Eagles to stop the Texans' weapons.
A lot depends on the state of the Redskins and Giants. Eagles MUST go 2-2.
Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys.
The end of the schedule is a scary sight for Eagles fans.
These last four games will (obviously) determine Philadelphia's playoff hopes: at Cowboys, at Giants, Vikings, Cowboys.
Philadelphia's season ended with two back-to-back losses in Dallas last year. The Cowboys physically dominated Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. Michael Vick did manage to throw for a touchdown....
The Eagles have to get revenge for the way last season ended, but this game may not be the time or place for it.
The Giants game on the road may be the start of the must win games. Looking back to the Texans and Cowboys games, Philadelphia may be in serious danger of losing three in a row.
Minnesota at Philadelphia will be a wild card battle. The Packers and Cowboys should be leading their respective divisions, so both teams will be fighting for second place. Who knows if Brett Favre will still be standing, but if he is, Sidney Rice will be back.
Showdown against the hated Cowboys. Possible scenarios for this game: Battle for NFC East Title, Battle for playoff spot, Cowboys are in (sit players)
This is it for the Eagles. Lose and they're out. Win and they may be in. Expect a rowdy Philadelphia crowd.
Eagles MUST go 2-2. Anything worse, NO playoffs.
So, after defeating the Redskins this Sunday, the Eagles would be 3-1 heading into the last three quarters of the season,
In each one, Philadelphia had to finish at 2-2 to keep playoff hopes alive. If they can do that, the Eagles will finish with a record of 9-7.
Currently, there is only one undefeated team in the NFC, the Chicago Bears. That streak should not last too long.
In a year where there seems to be more parity than ever, a 9-7 record should get the Eagles in the playoffs. A 10-6 finish may lead to a divisional title.
That is why this divisional home game against Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins is so important for the Eagles.
The first quarter of the season is by far the easiest for Philadelphia and the Eagles must finish with a 3-1 record.
The key for Philadelphia is to try to stay above the .500 mark the entire season. It will prevent the fans from experiencing a state of panic.
More importantly, the team's confidence will stay high throughout the grueling year.
Andy Reid and Philadelphia Eagles better realize how important this game is and not get caught up in the hype of Donovan McNabb's return.