Here are 20 questions to ponder about the upcoming National Football League season:

1) Quarterback Jim McMahon has never lasted an entire season in his five seasons in Chicago -- in fact he's missed 25 games since he became the full-time starter -- so why should we expect him to stay healthy now? Watch for rookie Jim Harbaugh, the cocksure son of a college football coach, to rise from the bench to toss out the Bears' life raft in 1987.

2) Now that injury and age have taken their toll, can you remember the last time the Dallas Cowboys entered a season in such weak standing?

3) With Coach Buddy Ryan taking the verbal whip to him, isn't it possible that rookie nose tackle Jerome Brown, whose talents have yet to be fully harnessed, could make the Pro Bowl this season? And having all-pro defensive end Reggie White on his side can't hurt Brown, either, right?

4) How many weeks will the Seattle Seahawks wait before replacing up-and-down quarterback Dave Krieg with newly acquired Jeff Kemp?

5) Why do the Detroit Lions always seem just good enough, yet just bad enough to keep anyone from noticing them?

6) Could the Rams have hired a more creative offensive thinker than Ernie Zampese, formerly of the Chargers, to add some passing zip to their Dark Ages offense?

7) Has any team improved itself as much during the offseason as the Los Angeles Raiders? They added two talented receivers (James Lofton, Mervyn Fernandez), a Heisman Trophy running back for half a season (Bo Jackson), a capable veteran cornerback (Lionel Washington) and two highly regarded 300-pound rookie tackles (John Clay and Bruce Wilkerson). A related question: How could the Raiders leave the quarterbacking in the uncertain hands of Rusty Hilger?

8) Once he starts playing football for the Raiders, does anyone seriously expect Bo Jackson to return to baseball?

9) Shouldn't we save a soft spot in our hearts for Tampa Bay quarterback Steve DeBerg? During his 11-year NFL career DeBerg has endured the arrival to his team of ballyhooed passers named Joe Montana, John Elway, Steve Young and now Vinny Testaverde.

10) Just because the New York Jets don't expect nose tackle Joe Klecko to return to the team (from reconstructive knee surgery) until late October, you don't actually believe this irrepressible tough guy will allow himself to sit out that long, do you?

11) You can knock Denver's Elway all you want, but is there another quarterback in the league who can improvise a play of sheer athletic beauty as well or as often?

12) Giants quarterback Phil Simms produced big plays at all the right moments last season, but did that represent an aberration or the turning point in his nine-year career?

13) How many weeks into the season will we have to wait before Bengals Coach Sam Wyche says something publicly that will anger team owner Paul Brown?

14) How many more years will we watch quarterback Boomer Esiason produce more than 400 points in a season (that's 25 per game) and still see the Bengals' defense figure a way to bungle things?

15) Now that his already thin defense has lost its finest player (linebacker John Offerdahl) for at least half the season, is it possible that Miami Coach Don Shula will fail to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season? Believe it or not, in 25 years as an NFL head coach, Shula's never endured two non-playoff seasons in a row.

16) Is it possible that we soon will witness the breakup of the finest corner tandem the league has known during the 1980s -- the Raiders' Mike Haynes (12th year) and Lester Hayes (11th year)?

17) Have you heard that since Al Saunders has replaced Don Coryell, some folks in San Diego have decided to change the nickname of the Chargers offense from Air Coryell to (no snickers, please) El Al?

18) Green Bay and Indianapolis won a combined total of seven games last season and what's the bet they don't combine to reach eight this season?

19) If Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll is to be credited for the Steelers' 99-44-1 regular season mark and eight playoff appearances in the '70s shouldn't he also be credited for the Steelers' slip to 55-50 (with just three playoff appearances out of a possible six) in the '80s?

20) Just because the instant replay officiating system made it to a second season, what makes you so sure it will last a third? Expect just as many problems with the replay this year as you saw last year.