The Baltimore Ravens are definitely a contender for the Super Bowl this year, so this run will likely have fans looking back 10 years to the last Super Bowl victory. It has been a while since the team from Charm City has been able to hold that trophy high, and if the time has come for it to happen once more, are this year's Ravens better than the 2000 championship team?
The Super Bowl team was definitely not known for its offensive prowess and the combination of Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks wasn't anything special. Banks led the Ravens to a 5-2 start before being replaced by Dilfer in Week 8 after the offense failed to put a touchdown on the board in five games.
Dilfer took over and lost his first game as a starter under center against the Steelers, but after that bump in the road, the team went undefeated for the rest of the season. But Dilfer wasn't the deciding factor in the Super Bowl run, as the Ravens were only 13th in the league in offensive scoring and one third of that was off the foot of Matt Stover.
Joe Flacco has been slowly growing in the Ravens offense headed by John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron, with the emphasis on slowly. Some can make arguments that he may not be the ultimate answer at quarterback for the Ravens and he hasn't been exactly great in pressure situations.
However, he has led the Ravens to the playoffs in both of the years he has been in the league, including one AFC Championship game. But this year, his slowness in the pocket has cost the team multiple turnovers and if he can't turn it around he will be one of the main reasons why the Ravens don't make it back to the promise land.
Flacco has plenty of potential and he can break out for four touchdowns on any given game, which is something Dilfer or Banks could never do.
Advantage: 2010 Ravens
Jamal Lewis is the best running back to ever grace a Ravens uniform, and even though the Super Bowl year was his rookie season, he didn't fail to impress and even managed to total a 100 yard game in the big game.
Lewis wasn't the only factor in the run game, either, because his backup was none other than Priest Holmes; his greatness wasn't exactly realized yet, but that is still an excellent backup for any team to have. The pounding run game of the Ravens Super Bowl team was unwavering, and over the season they accumulated a total of 2,199 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ray Rice, on the other hand, has given the Ravens hope for the future of the run game after taking it to a whole new level last season. Rice is widely considered one of the top five backs in the league right now and his backup, Willis McGahee, isn't anyone to shy away from either.
The smash and dash of Rice and McGahee is made even stronger with the addition of Le'Ron McClain who is known for his strength. McClain is a true fullback, but he can play running back and has been used as a short yardage back this year with McGahee.
Rice hasn't been very effective so far this year, but that is likely because of the potency of the pass game and his abilities have definitely not gone away. But, Jamal Lewis is one of the best running backs of his time and he was key to any offensive success the Ravens had during the Super Bowl year.
Advantage: 2000 Ravens
The best option for the 2000 Ravens was Shannon Sharpe, who led the team in receiving and accumulated 810 yards over the season. This was no small feat considering how bad the quarterback situation was and the fact that the Ravens offense was centered around the run.
Along with Sharpe, this rag tag receiving core was filled in by Travis Taylor, Quadry Ismail and Brandon Stokely. To put it in the best terms: they got the job done.
Now in 2010, the Ravens have put together what is easily, one of the best receiving cores in the history of the NFL with Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmanzadeh and Derrick Mason.
Mason has been one of the most consistent receivers in the league and is the cornerstone and when the Ravens throw in two big possesion receivers, they can't possibly get any better. Not to mention the deep threat that is Donte Stallworth; even though he has yet to make an impact.
Bottom line is the new Ravens are star studded and the old Ravens were full of stand-ins, so the advantage is obvious in this case.
Advantage: 2010 Ravens
What's the difference between an unstoppable defense and an impenetrable defense?
The answer is simple: a 25-year-old Ray Lewis vs. a 35-year-old Ray Lewis.
The 2000 Ravens defense is often considered to be one of the best to ever step out on the field and when there are names like McAlister, Adams, Siragusa, McCrary, Boulware and Woodson to go along with Lewis, there is no comparison.
There simply weren't any weaknesses in the defense and the special teams of the Super Bowl team, with a legend like Stover and a return specialist like Jermaine Lewis.
The 2010 Ravens have legitimate weakness in the secondary and they have been exploited in that area multiple times. Plus, the special teams has been okay at best with Cundiff missing every once and a while and the team has a new returner almost every week.
The 2010 Ravens just simply can't compare to the 2000 Ravens in this category because there is almost no team that really can.
Advantage: 2000 Ravens
The 2000 Ravens have a slight edge over the 2010 Ravens because they were a more complete team in all aspects. The offense was bad, but because the run game was working, they could just run out the clock and put a few field goals on the board in the process. Also, there was always a chance for Jermaine Lewis to just break one and score a quick six.
When a team can't score on you, you are going to win; and that's the viewpoint the Super Bowl team had, that the 2010 team can't really follow.
Final Verdict: 2000 Baltimore Ravens