Seemingly poised and no doubt hopeful of a long journey to the Super Bowl, the top-seeded Ravens came far short of expectations in last season's playoffs.
However, it was not only a stunning AFC Divisional Round conclusion to deal with, but the end also closed a campaign in which the Ravens were able to surprise some foes.
Now, as the disappointment is there, so too is the recognition of being one of the NFL's best and a Super Bowl favorite.
"Going into our season last year, we were the iceberg," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Thursday, via the team website’s Clifton Brown. "Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still under water and people hadn't seen it yet. Starting next year, we're not going to be the iceberg. People are going to see us. We're going to be everybody's most important game."
When 2018 began, Joe Flacco was still the Ravens starter. As the season progressed, Lamar Jackson took over due to a Flacco injury. Baltimore edged its way into the playoffs, lost at home in the first round and questions still swirled around Jackson.
Then came 2019. Jackson and the Ravens offense took the league by storm. The defense improved and improved. And a 14-2 regular season netted the AFC's No. 1 seed, an AFC North title and a bevy of statistical splendor. At least at the onset of the season, many an opponent didn't know what him them.
So now, despite the Ravens' shocking upset loss to the Titans in the playoffs, expectations are high and Baltimore will have a proverbial target on its back.
The Ravens are unlikely to sneak up on anyone and their dominant ground game is likely to face stiffer schemes and preparation.
Of course, while Harbaugh believes opponents aplenty will be more motivated to stop the Ravens, he knows his team is fueled by last season's unsettling finish and the continuing journey to prove it is indeed a Super Bowl-caliber team.
"They are just pissed about it," Harbaugh said of Baltimore's jarring playoff loss to Tennessee. "They are not happy about it. I expect our guys to learn from that and understand what it takes to beat an opponent that is determined to beat you."