Should the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Los Angeles Raiders in an AFC divisional playoff game today in Los Angeles, they will have done so despite a dislocated thumb, two bad ankles and a damaged shoulder.

The Bengals are hurting. The Raiders are surging. And the combination could be unpleasant for Cincinnati.

"We'll be coming in there about as lame as we did last time," Bengals Coach Sam Wyche said, referring to the Raiders' 24-7 victory here Dec. 16.

Key Bengals are injured and questionable for this game, although most of them probably will attempt to play in the first quarter and see how it goes. Running back James Brooks dislocated his left thumb last week in Cincinnati's AFC wild-card victory over the Houston Oilers. Guard Bruce Reimers and running back Harold Green sprained their ankles, and offensive tackle Anthony Munoz damaged his left shoulder, separating it and partially tearing the rotator cuff.

Brooks wore a new splint Thursday but said it was as clumsy as the first when it came to carrying the ball and that he could not play. However, the team's running backs coach, Jim Anderson, said he thinks Brooks, the team's leading rusher with 1,021 yards and five touchdowns, will start.

Munoz reported improved mobility and said he would try to play, but that it depends on how much pain he can endure. Reimers, the left guard who lines up next to Munoz, has been on crutches all week because of a sprained ankle. He walked at practice Thursday and said a nylon pressure sock, designed to reduce swelling, had given him a bit of hope.

Green did not practice Thursday and Wyche said the injury was more severe than originally believed. Nevertheless, Green is expected to try to play.

Cincinnati, the AFC Central champion and winner of three straight games, is left with only three healthy running backs -- Ickey Woods, Stanford Jennings and Eric Ball.

An even worse indicator for the Bengals (10-7) is the fact that they are 1-10 against the AFC West champion Raiders in California. In their last meeting, Raiders running back Bo Jackson had eight carries for 117 yards.

"I think we just have to go out and stop him," said Bengals safety David Fulcher. "We had a pretty good game {last time} but we made some mistakes. I think we've made some improvements since then."

The Bengals have not faced a pass rush this season quite like the Raiders'. The Cincinnati offense will be going against the likes of defensive end Greg Townsend (12 1/2 sacks).

Both sides insist this will not be a replay of the December game.

"We played one of our better games that day," said Coach Art Shell, whose 12-4 Raiders closed the regular season with five straight wins. "But this is a different season and the Bengals have played extremely well since that game."

Said Los Angeles quarterback Jay Schroeder, formerly a Washington Redskin: "We have a gut feeling we can play with anybody in the league. Now is the time to prove it."

Wyche bristled when someone asked him why his team has been inconsistent this season.

"I think some commentator must have said that on television, because everybody has parroted it back at me ever since," he said. "Our team has been very consistent. We've just been outplayed by better teams.

"We're not a great football team. We're not a dynasty. We had no illusions that we'd be able to win every week, so the question doesn't apply."