- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- Maybe this could be the year it all finally ends for the Cincinnati Bengals.
One of their more memorable former players believes 2015 could be the season the franchise's long playoff wins drought -- currently the NFL's longest -- comes to a close.
"It's coming," Ickey Woods told ESPN after an event at Cincinnati's Christ Hospital over the weekend. "I'm thinking this is the year we at least win that first playoff game and have a shot at getting to another playoff game. We've got the nucleus to do it."
If the Bengals finally win their first playoff game since January 1991, Woods wouldn't be surprised if they continued to rattle off enough victories to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the Bengals did it his rookie year. Why does he believe that? Because in Woods' mind, this 2015 Bengals team closely resembles the 1988 team that was 34 seconds from winning Super Bowl XXIII.
"They've got a lot of things that mirror us," Woods said.
Specifically, he was comparing the two offenses. For Woods, the comparisons begin in the backfield.
"It kind of reminds me of myself with James Brooks," the former running back said. "You got the one-two punch. You got the big bruiser, which is Jeremy Hill, and then you got the little scatback that can do the screens and get outside for you. That was J.B. for us. It looks like Giovani [Bernard] for them this year."
If Hill and Bernard can post the regular-season numbers Woods and Brooks had in 1988, the Bengals should be among the AFC's favored teams. That year, Woods rushed for 1,066 yards and had 15 rushing touchdowns. Brooks rushed for 931 yards and combined for 14 rushing and receiving scores.
Cincinnati's current pass-catchers also compare to the ones the Bengals had in 1988, Woods said.
"Tyler Eifert reminds me of a Rodney Holman-type," Woods said. "Then they've got A.J. Green. We had Chris Collinsworth and Eddie Brown and then they've got A.J. and the kid on the other side, the speed guy, Marvin Jones. That was Tim McGee on our team."
McGee was a 24-year-old receiver in 1988 and caught 36 passes for 686 yards and six scores. Jones is expected to have even better production this year. A 26-year-old Brown had a 1,000-yard receiving year in 1988 -- something Green has done each season he has been in Bengals stripes, .
In terms of offensive line comparisons, Woods believes Andrew Whitworth anchors this current line much like Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz did with the left side of the '88 line.
The year of the Super Bowl, the Bengals' offense ranked first in the league and the defense was 15th. Both units struggled last year amid changes at offensive and defensive coordinator. The 2014 Bengals were 15th on offense and 22nd on defense. With a couple of roster tweaks this past offseason and with another year under coordinators Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther, this year's offense and defense ought to be improved.
The big remaining unanswered question, though, is can quarterback Andy Dalton have a season that mirrors Boomer Esiason's 1988 MVP campaign?
Woods is less sure of that. He considers this a pivotal year for Dalton.
"This is the year we must win a playoff game or it's time to start looking in a different direction at the quarterback spot," Woods said. "His thing of not being able to win the big game, he's got to shake that and get it done this year."