If it’s really the unknown that draws people, the mystery that awakes our curiosity, football fans in Las Vegas are downright antsy with intrigue right now.
It might not influence their every thought, but the idea that 2020 will officially make Southern Nevada one of 32 coveted NFL destinations is undoubtedly on the minds of most.
And that not only includes the Raiders arriving to their sparkling new palace of a stadium, but all the other storylines that come to define the nation’s most powerful and popular league.
It’s in this spirit, then, that we enter our own fourth dimension of travel, forecasting themes that might best characterize the league next year.
Here are 20(20) such beliefs, some more paranormal than not:
1. The Raiders will win the AFC West. Hasn’t it always been the plan for them to contend once arriving in Las Vegas? Building defense through the draft. Derek Carr owning another year running Jon Gruden’s offensive system. As long as Antonio Brown doesn’t lose his head by visiting the same cryotherapy lab that botched things up with the late Ted Williams, well, the title should be a stone-cold lock — minus the frostbite.
2. The league will have caught up to Patrick Mahomes. This, as much as anything, will help the Raiders wear a division crown. Kansas City has a video game for its quarterback, but two years’ worth of film for opponents to study will reduce Mahomes from an Xbox One to an original Wii.
3. The NFL will ride a wave of legalized gambling and all its revenue streams, agreeing to its first nationwide sponsorship with a sportsbook. Can’t wait to see those Roger Goodell posters hanging at the Westgate.
4. The Rooney Rule will be altered and improved, meaning the desire for more diverse hires in head coaching and management roles will finally have teeth behind it.
5. Daniel Jones will throw more touchdowns as the Giants starter than either of the first two picks from the 2015 draft, prompting Baker Mayfield to wonder how in the world Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were selected so high.
6. Philip Rivers will announce the arrival of another child, meaning while he will never win a Super Bowl with the Chargers, he and his wife will now envision watching a 5-on-5 pickup hoops game strictly of their offspring.
7. The Rams and Chargers will open their shared $3 billion stadium, all for the right to play in a Raiders town.
8. Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor and Matt LaFleur will have shown (little) enough to prove this: None are the next Sean McVay.
9. A new collective bargaining agreement will have been signed, without an 18-game schedule and yet having stripped Goodell of enough disciplinary power that he no longer resembles Albus Dumbledore in a suit.
10. The Cowboys will have a new head coach, and unlike with the Indianapolis offer, Josh McDaniels won’t decline this time.
11. Josh Allen will improve his quarterback rating in Buffalo for a third straight season, impressive until you remember he posted just a 67.9 as a rookie last year and often can’t hit water standing on the banks of Alsop Lake back in Laramie.
12. Having made the easy choice of Jennifer Lopez for the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show in Miami, new NFL partner Jay-Z makes an even more obvious one next year: himself.
13. Le’Veon Bell leads the Jets to a playoff berth. Then asks for a raise.
14. Andrew Luck announces he is coming out of retirement for the Colts, a news conference made even more bizarre when owner Jim Irsay states he hadn’t realized the quarterback ever left.
15. Denver will feature the league’s top collection of receivers, which would mean something if John Elway at 60 wasn’t still the team’s best quarterback.
16. Rams star Aaron Donald will become the first player in history to lead the NFL in sacks for a third straight year. Then ask for a raise.
17. The Dolphins will have a new quarterback. His first name is Tua.
18. The Raiders will be just bad enough in 2019 to own another Top 10 pick and finally select The Real Guy After Derek Carr: Justin Herbert.
19. Carli Lloyd will finally discover a way to make as much money as her male counterparts kicking a ball. She will sign with the Bears.
20. Tom Brady will win an eighth Super Bowl (which tells you who we think is winning in 2019) and, at age 43, celebrate by treating his teammates to special massages.
I just wish he knew someone in the Patriots organization (the owner, perhaps) with a good contact.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.