Say, remember the last time the Eagles could have overlooked a weak AFC North opponent as a tougher series of matchups awaited after? Highly likely. It isn't hard to remember pain that lasts 15 more minutes than it's supposed to.
In tying the dreadful Cincinnati Bengals 13-13 on Nov. 16, the Eagles looked lethargic. Their meandering offense carried over to the next week, a 36-7 loss at Baltimore, before about-facing to two huge wins against NFC division champions, Arizona and New York.
So the Eagles, at 7-5-1 got two big-time wakeup calls. But if they don't stay alert for Monday's matchup with 4-9 Cleveland, the Eagles could find themselves out of the playoff hunt before even taking the field against division rivals Washington and Dallas.
"We can't relax. We've got to win out, so there's no room for that," safety Quintin Mikell said. "We don't have that luxury right now."
On paper, this should be a cupcake win. The Browns are down to their third-string quarterback, mathematically eliminated from the playoff race and relatively hapless on both sides of the football. Former Miami Hurricane Ken Dorsey is quarterbacking the NFL's 28th ranked offense and the defense doesn't fare much better – 27th overall.
But, in actuality, that's not much different than the Bengals – also relegated to their backup quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) trying to shove square pegs into round holes with the NFL's worst offense.
But the Browns have talent. Monday night will feature a matchup of the two teams that have managed to beat the Giants in the 2008 calendar year, something the Patriots would love to boast. Despite losing quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn for the season to injuries, this is still a team that has the majority of the players who throttled the Giants 35-14 on Oct. 13.
"They've got the talent. On any given Sunday, they can win a game," cornerback Joselio Hanson said. "That's how they beat the Giants. They beat them kind of bad on (a) Monday night, so we've got to bring our best game."
Though the defense has come into its own, the Eagles' offense has experienced the biggest turnaround. With the seemingly miraculous reemergence of Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, a repeat like the dud against Cincinnati seems improbable, at the worst.
And for McNabb, he has his own personal motivation. He hasn't actually suited up in a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXIX. Though McNabb completely considers himself part of the 2006 team that made a late run to the postseason, it's not enough for him.
"You play to make the playoffs and put yourself in position to make the Super Bowl. I don't think any player just kind of plays to go through the regular season and that's it," McNabb said. "I look to get on a win streak and obviously continue on what we've been doing and hopefully put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs. Whatever happens after that, happens. The only thing I'm focused on at this particular point is playing against the Cleveland Browns."