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Ravens News 1/11: Redemption Arc

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens and Lamar Jackson enter playoffs with chance for redemption: ‘It’s about getting what we’re chasing’

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

“I don’t really get bothered by much [in my career] and I wouldn’t say I’ve had a lowest point, but I’ve had disappointments,” Jackson told The Sun. “Not finishing the season how we wanted, getting that first-round bye [in 2019] then losing before the AFC championship, that’s disappointing. We have a special team and hopefully we make it happen this year.”

“I think we all grow, we evolve [and] circumstances change,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We find ourself in a different place, and I’ve always admired Lamar for every part of what he’s doing. He’s always done his best and he’s doing his best right now.

“I would say this: He’s an A-plus leader right now. He’s been glue for the guys, and it’s been great to see.”

“The only way for someone to feel comfortable [with a quarterback] fully is to see it come through in a game,” Beckham told The Sun. “I’ve started to understand what he’s thinking, when he’s thinking so I know where he wants me to be and how he wants me to be.”

Added Agholor: “There’s a brotherhood here that is second to none thus far. It’s really fun in terms of the guys we’ve assembled. We respect each other, feed off each other.”

“My rookie year was my first time being in the playoffs and people already had us doubted,” [Lamar] told The Sun. “My second season, the Titans just had our number. We had a lot of drops, unfortunate things like that happened when we didn’t need them to. Third year, we won a game and lost in Buffalo. The past two years, I was hurt.

“Hopefully this year it’ll be something different.”

AFC No. 1 seed Ravens hoping to learn from ‘19 disappointment

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

“I’m still not completely over it, to be honest,” Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “Those opportunities don’t come too often.

“Luckily, we have another chance this year, and we’re going to make sure that we don’t take it for granted.”

Since playoff seedings began in the NFL in 1975, there have been four instances of a No. 1 seed losing consecutive postseason openers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It’s only happened twice since 2000: the Tennessee Titans (2000, 2008 and 2021) and the Dallas Cowboys (2007 and 2016).

Over the past decade, the top-seeded teams are 16-4 (.800) in their first playoff games. The only teams to lose that opening game as the No. 1 seed are: the Cowboys (2016), Ravens (2019), Titans (2021) and Packers (2021).

“I remember we came out really, really slow in that Titans game,” Ravens nose tackle Michael Pierce said. “We got a good plan, and Coach [John] Harbaugh is on top of it. We’ll be working, and we definitely are mindful to what happened last.”

Final 2023 NFL offensive line rankings

Zoltan Buday, PFF

5. BALTIMORE RAVENS

Best lineup:

LT Ronnie Stanley

LG John Simpson

C Tyler Linderbaum

RG Kevin Zeitler

RT Morgan Moses

The Ravens utilized their depth early on due to injuries, which helped them develop into a top-tier unit and eventually rotate their offensive tackles late in the season to give Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses some rest. Nine different Baltimore offensive linemen played at least 160 snaps this season.

The Ravens’ offensive line was responsible for 160 total pressures allowed, which was the fifth fewest in the NFL this regular season.

Best player: Tyler Linderbaum

Linderbaum made a leap in his sophomore season and ended up being the NFL’s only center to earn grades above 75.0 both in run blocking and pass blocking.

Ranking the 20 most important Ravens heading into the playoffs

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

11. CB Brandon Stephens

Only one NFL cornerback was picked on more often in coverage this season than Stephens, according to NGS. The trouble for opposing quarterbacks was that Stephens usually won his matchup. Among the 95 most targeted defensive backs in 2023, Stephens ranked 24th in coverage success rate. He allowed just two touchdowns, had two interceptions and recorded 11 pass defenses. In Stephens’ four combined matchups against the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ George Pickens, he allowed just five catches on nine targets for 43 yards and a touchdown. Ronald Darby and Rock Ya-Sin are more-than-capable backups, but Stephens has elevated his game this season.

4. OLB Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney tied a career high with 9.5 sacks this season, and he should have had a handful more. The former No. 1 overall pick has the fifth-highest pass rush win rate among NFL edge rushers, according to ESPN, despite drawing a double-team on a quarter of his snaps. He’s brought a no-holds-barred physicality to the position, punishing quarterbacks who’ve stayed in the pocket for one beat too many. Every Super Bowl-caliber defense needs at least one premium pass rusher; Clowney is the closest thing the Ravens have to it.

NFL playoffs: Which AFC/NFC teams are most likely to hit Super Bowl LVIII? Who’ll lift Lombardi Trophy?

Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com

Baltimore Ravens

AFC NO. 1 SEED | 13-4

Win SB: 18.5%

Win AFC: 38.5%

Odds to win Super Bowl: +330

Odds to win AFC: +130

As with the Niners, the Ravens succeeded in many facets of the game in 2023 — and I need to save some observations for next week. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites:

Baltimore boasted the NFL’s third-best defensive success rate against the pass (61.5%).

Lamar Jackson recorded a career-high scramble rate (13.2%, highest among all QBs) while also completing more passes than expected (+0.7 percent) inside the tackle box for the first time in his career.