Ronnie Stanley’s still not over it. The Ravens left tackle was on the 2019 team that entered the postseason as Super Bowl favorites and left without a win. Four years later, he’s on another dominant Ravens team. That means more championship dreams. That means more reminders of a nightmarish end.

“Those opportunities don’t come too often,” Stanley said Saturday. “Luckily, we have another chance this year, and we’re going to make sure that we don’t take it for granted.”

As the top-seeded Ravens prepare for their playoff opener in the AFC divisional round, 2019 still casts a shadow over 2023. There is no escaping it. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was on his way to NFL Most Valuable Player honors then; he’s likely on his way to his second award now. A dominant secondary powered the Ravens then; a dominant pass defense powers them now. No team looked better than the Ravens in the regular season then; no team looks better than them now.

But the 2023 Ravens are not the 2019 Ravens. For all their similarities — and the two teams are indeed more alike than they are different — what separates these Ravens is also what could elevate them. Here’s how the two teams compare. (Unless otherwise noted, all data comes from TruMedia and FTN.)

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Lamar Jackson has been less efficient but more in control this season than he was in 2019, when he was NFL MVP. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)


Jackson’s 2019 is the best passing season in franchise history: an NFL-high and team-record 36 touchdowns, six interceptions, two games with a perfect passer rating, and a remarkable 0.38 expected points added per pass attempt (second best in the NFL). The Ravens just didn’t need Jackson to pass very often; he averaged 26.7 throws per game, 35th of 42 qualifying quarterbacks.

This year, Jackson has been less efficient but more in control, more accurate. Under coordinator Todd Monken, he has greater authority at the line of scrimmage to audible out of unfavorable play calls. He’s also completed a career-high 67.2% of his passes. Few quarterbacks have been better in big games. On one of the Ravens’ most important drives of the season, they turned to Jackson over and over again, who found wide receiver Zay Flowers for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter of an eventual overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams. With more experience has come more wisdom about how to beat whatever defenses test him with.

Advantage: 2023

Ravens running Mark Ingram II celebrates a first down against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 22, 2019. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)


The Ravens led the NFL this season in rushing yards (2,661), are second in rushing touchdowns (26) and third in yards per carry (4.9). They’ve rushed for at least 100 yards in every game and for at least 150 yards in seven games.

But the highs of 2019 are untouchable. Those Ravens set the single-season NFL record for rushing yards (3,296) — “That’s like Joe DiMaggio’s record,” coach John Harbaugh said — on an NFL-high 5.5 yards per carry. Jackson set the single-season rushing record for a quarterback. Running back Mark Ingram II went to the Pro Bowl. Gus Edwards was tackled for a loss on just five of his 133 carries. Their rushing success rate (48.2%) is still the eighth highest by any NFL team since 2000.

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Advantage: 2019

Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers caught 77 passes for 858 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)


Production-wise, there’s not much of a gap between the two teams. The 2019 Ravens and 2023 Ravens both had one receiver with more than 600 yards in the regular season — tight end Mark Andrews and Flowers, respectively. The 2019 Ravens had four receivers finish with 300 to 600 yards (wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Willie Snead IV and tight ends Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle); the 2023 Ravens had five (wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and Rashod Bateman, and tight ends Isaiah Likely and Andrews).

But even with Andrews sidelined for the past two months, the 2023 Ravens’ talent advantage is clear. Beckham and Flowers have both taken over games this season, as have Likely and Andrews. Bateman is one of four first-round picks in the wide receiver rotation. Ask Jackson which group he’d rather throw to, and he wouldn’t need long to answer.

Advantage: 2023

Marshal Yanda (73), Patrick Mekari (65), Bradley Bozeman (77) and Lamar Jackson line up against the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 1, 2019. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)


The 2019 Ravens finished second in the NFL in ESPN’s pass block win rate and had four linemen ranked among Pro Football Focus’ top 50 run blockers. Ronnie Stanley was the NFL’s best left tackle. Right guard Marshal Yanda was an All-Pro. Orlando Brown Jr. developed into a Pro Bowl right tackle. Left guard Bradley Bozeman and center Matt Skura, before a season-ending knee injury, were more-than-capable starters. Tight end Nick Boyle and fullback Patrick Ricard were among the best blockers at their positions.

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The 2023 Ravens do not have the same quality upfront, ranking ninth in pass block win rate and fourth in run block win rate. Stanley and right tackle Morgan Moses have been limited by injuries. Left guard John Simpson has had his ups and downs. Right guard Kevin Zeitler has rebounded from a slow start to deliver another strong season. The only starter to rank among the top-performing linemen in ESPN’s blocking rates is Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum. Ricard remains a force in the Ravens’ run and play-action schemes, but the offense doesn’t have the kind of run-blocking tight end it’s relied upon in years past.

Advantage: 2019

Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (92) and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney have combined for more than 20 sacks this season. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pass rush

The 2019 Ravens’ pass rush was decidedly average, finishing sixth in pressure rate — thanks to an aggressive blitzing philosophy — but 14th in ESPN’s win rate and 19th in sack rate. Outside linebacker Matthew Judon (9.5 sacks) was the lone defender to finish with more than five sacks. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (five sacks) was the only other player with more than three sacks. The defense’s interior pass rush relied primarily on outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (three sacks), who would line up over guards on obvious passing downs.

The 2023 Ravens attack from every angle. They led the NFL with 60 sacks, tying their franchise record, and finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in sack rate and pressure rate. Sixteen Ravens finished the year with a sack, led by defensive lineman Justin Madubuike (13) and outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney (9.5) and Kyle Van Noy (nine). Just as impressive as their production was how rarely they relied on blitzes to get home; only six defenses finished with a lower blitz rate.

Advantage: 2023

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Ravens linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen talk on the field during warmups before last week's game against the Steelers. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Run defense

Neither unit was the strength of two standout defenses. The 2019 Ravens’ run defense ranked 10th in DVOA; the 2023 Ravens’ ranked seventh. The 2019 Ravens finished 18th in success rate; the 2023 Ravens finished 14th. The 2019 Ravens stopped 20% of opponents’ runs for negative yardage or no gain, 17th best in the NFL; the 2023 Ravens stopped 18.6%, 22nd best.

The 2019 Ravens were far better at limiting explosive runs, but they also faced a worse collection of offenses than the 2023 Ravens. Scheme plays a role, too; under coordinator Mike Macdonald, these Ravens have played with one of the NFL’s highest light-box rates (six or fewer defenders), daring teams to run.

Advantage: Even

Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) runs after Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.
Safety Kyle Hamilton chases Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown during a game in October. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pass coverage

The 2019 Ravens ended their regular season on a heater: eight straight games in which they allowed 207 passing yards or fewer. In their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, they gave up just 83. Overall, the Ravens’ pass defense ranked third in DVOA and fourth in success rate. It also helped produce five defensive touchdowns (two on pick sixes, three on fumble returns). Still, the unit was vulnerable to yards after the catch, ranking 23rd in average yardage surrendered, and finished outside the top 10 in interceptions.

The 2023 Ravens have dealt with some of the injury woes that beset the 2019 team — cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams have all missed multiple games — but it has not mattered much. They rank first in DVOA, tied for first in yards allowed per pass attempt, tied for second in touchdown-to-interception ratio, tied for third in interceptions, third in success rate and sixth in average yards after the catch allowed. A soft schedule was an early-season help, but the defense has impressed in recent weeks against some of the NFL’s best offenses and most talented quarterbacks.

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Advantage: 2023

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was successful on 32 of 37 field goal attempts during the regular season. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Special teams

In 2019, kicker Justin Tucker made 28 of 29 field goal attempts (96.6%), including 11 of 12 from beyond 40 yards, and 57 of 59 extra points. But the rest of the Ravens’ special teams units ranged from solid to mediocre. Justice Hill, De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Moore didn’t have a kickoff return longer than 46 yards, and Thomas and Cyrus Jones didn’t have a punt return longer than 25 yards. Sam Koch and the punt team also ranked 19th in net punting average.

In 2023, Tucker is just 32-for-37 on field goals (86.5%) and 51-for-52 on extra points. But his supporting cast has fared far better. The Ravens have three high-end special teams units: punt return (first in DVOA), kickoff return (fifth) and kickoff coverage (sixth). Tylan Wallace had a game-winning punt return touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams, while Devin Duvernay returned a punt 70 yards against the Titans. Hill’s 78-yard kickoff return against the Miami Dolphins helped the Ravens kick-start a dominant second half.

Advantage: 2023

Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald watches the game against the Los Angeles Rams last month. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)


The 2023 Ravens’ staff will almost certainly not get the postseason honors that the 2019 staff did. Harbaugh, praised all season for his embrace of analytics and aggressiveness on fourth down, was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who’d overseen an attack that finished No. 1 in both rushing and passing efficiency, was named the AP’s Assistant Coach of the Year. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale interviewed for the New York Giants’ head coaching job. Special teams coordinator Chris Horton oversaw a top-10 unit. It’s hard to argue with their results: 14 wins, 12 straight to end the season, an NFL-high plus-249 point differential, unanimous MVP honors for Jackson.

It’s also hard to say the 2019 staff did more with what it had than the 2023 staff. These Ravens rank in the top four in DVOA in offense, defense and special teams, putting them in historic company. Macdonald’s play-calling has made him a top coaching candidate, and Monken has helped unlock parts of Jackson’s unrealized potential. But these Ravens also lost two, if not three, games they deserved to win, and Harbaugh has come under fire at points this season for his clock management.

From their schematic edges to their player development to their on-the-fly adjustments, the two staffs aren’t far apart in how they profile. Both helped nurture young talent, overcame key injuries before and during the season, and had their team peaking heading into the playoffs.

Advantage: Even

Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith tackles Lions tight end Sam LaPorta. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)


The 2019 Ravens had Ingram’s “Big Truss” and Jackson’s “Hell, yeah, Coach, let’s go for it!” and Marcus Peters trolling the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey in a blowout. Good vibes, all of them. The 2019 Ravens also had a 23-year-old Jackson starting in the playoffs, a first-time defensive signal-caller in Chuck Clark and a moody Earl Thomas. Not a recipe for stability.

The 2023 Ravens do not have a catchphrase, but their veteran leaders do have a hard-earned sense of perspective. Jackson seems to enter every postgame news conference, win or lose, with the same dispassionate approach. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who never won a playoff game in his four-plus years with the Chicago Bears, has backed up his headline-grabbing proclamations with results. Harbaugh, too, has evolved, shedding his run-first, blitz-often philosophy and remaking the strength and conditioning program and athletic training staff after a few iffy years.

Advantage: 2023


The 2019 Ravens had the better record, but they also faced an easier schedule. The 2023 Ravens have better wins, a more complete quarterback and more ways to win.

Advantage: 2023 Ravens 6, 2019 Ravens 2