Ravens’ 2020 season ‘eerily similar’ to 2012’s Super Bowl-winning run

·3 min read

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been with the team since he was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Over those 10 years in the league, Smith has seen just about everything the game has to offer. He’s been on a 5-11 team in 2015 and he won a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2012. So when he says this season is shaping up a lot like that 2012 Super Bowl-winning campaign, it’s time to listen.

“It’s similar,” Smith said about comparing the 2012 and 2020 seasons. “I’m not going to say it’s the same, nothing’s the same, but it’s eerily similar to us hitting a little adversity and then going on a hot streak and then being a wild card in the playoffs. That’s kinda the route we took then and we’re kinda on pace, but we’ll see.”

Smith isn’t joking when he says it’s eerily similar. While I’m not one for conspiracy theories, the two seasons have far more in common with one another than seems possible by accident. And, it all starts with that adversity he talked about.

That 2012 season saw the Ravens drop four of their final five games, including key contests against playoff contenders like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos. Baltimore would then get some revenge by beating the Broncos in the playoffs on their road to Super Bowl XLVII. This season, the Ravens dropped four of five games in the middle of the season, including big losses to the Steelers and Tennessee Titans. But last week, Baltimore got revenge on the Titans in the postseason to advance to the divisional round.

There are some other odd similarities in the schedule of both seasons.

  • In both 2012 and 2020, the Ravens played the NFC East, as well as going up against the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and New England Patriots in the regular season. When combined with games against the AFC North, that’s 10-of-13 opponents being the same.

  • The Ravens opened the 2012 season with a beatdown of an AFC North rival in the Cincinnati Bengals, winning by a 31-point margin of victory. This season, Baltimore beat the Cleveland Browns by a 32-point margin of victory in Week 1.

  • The Ravens got matched up with the New York Giants in Week 16 of both seasons. Baltimore beat New York by at least 14 points in each season.

While these can just as easily be chalked up to how the NFL’s scheduling system works, the sheer number of similarities and specifics are difficult to ignore.

Even the setups to both playoff runs are eerily similar. The Ravens, in both instances, had quarterbacks that were having their place in the league questioned by outsiders. Joe Flacco was seen as a mediocre quarterback that couldn’t get over the hump, much like the narrative Jackson carried into the playoffs this season. Even the defenses, which were good but not great in the regular season, found a way to step up their play in the playoffs.

Smith also pointed out how both seasons were answers to disappointing playoff exits the year before.

“The first year in 2011, we went and kinda didn’t make it — kinda similar to last year, got all the way up there and basically didn’t make it. And then coming back and having, pretty much, the same team but still hitting some adversity that year — dropping like four games in a row and then squeezing into the playoffs and making that run.”

Whether destiny is a thing or Baltimore just faced enough adversity with enough talent on the roster to make a Super Bowl run possible is up for debate. But one game into the playoffs and the Ravens are hot right now. They still have a long way to go before the two seasons sync up perfectly but the fact so much aligns shouldn’t be ignored.