NFL team's a loser? Move on, fans

What if your favorite NFL team is terrible -- should you stand firm?

No. It's OK to be a fair-weather fan.

The 2014 season has seen a race to the bottom among the league's bad clubs. Five teams -- City of Tampa, Jacksonville, Jersey/B, Oakland and Tennessee -- are poised to finish with no more than three wins, versus only two teams that bad last season. The Bears and Giants have been huge disappointments, while the Eagles knocked themselves out of a seemingly locked-up postseason bid with an all-time phoned-in bad game versus 4-11 Washington. Buffalo hasn't reached the postseason in a league-worst 15 years and laid an egg versus 3-12 Oakland.

If any of these are your favorite teams, just write them off until such time as they may improve. Don't watch their final outings. Don't make excuses or invent reasons they may be less of an infuriating letdown next year.

NFL teams that consistently promise to improve, then stay terrible, are manipulating you. Strike back! It's OK to be a fair-weather fan.

Fans and boosters of college football should stay true to their schools through thick or thin because colleges play a larger role in society. NFL teams are strictly entertainment organizations. If the entertainment is bad, write 'em off. You wouldn't purchase a crummy album by a pop star. Why watch the games of a terrible NFL team?

Jacksonville is on a 9-38 stretch. Washington is on a 7-24 stretch. The Raiders are on a 11-36 stretch and haven't made a playoff appearance in 12 years. Tennessee is on a 15-32 stretch and has gone 11 years without a playoff win. The Buccaneers haven't won a playoff game in 12 years. The Lions haven't won a postseason contest in 23 years. The Bengals haven't won one in 24 years.

That some NFL clubs consistently are good while others consistently are bad may be a case study in coaching and management. Regardless, if your favorite team is bad, you owe them nothing. NFL teams are heavily subsidized by the public, and exist solely to provide sports entertainment. Bad play is not entertaining. Don't feign loyalty. Take pride in being a fair-weather fan!

In other football news, a factor in the Eagles' upset defeat by the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons, bouncing Philadelphia from postseason contention, was a roughing the passer flag that advanced the Persons to first-and-goal. The call was marginal -- nothing vicious, no helmet-to-helmet hit, just contact an instant after Robert Griffin III released the ball.

Rule tweaks in recent years have expanded protection for those in a "passer stance." The NFL is trying to make football less violent, and to safeguard its substantial economic investment in quarterbacks. Fair enough. But the pendulum has swung too far, especially considering it is unrealistic for a defender who is charging hard toward the quarterback to come to a complete halt the instant the ball is released.

So TMQ proposes a new "passer stance" rule: a player in a passer stance cannot be hit in any manner and is down with two-hand touch.

I'm in earnest about this. A two-hand touch rule for the quarterback would not sissify football, anymore more than banning grabbing the facemask (once that was legal) sissified football. A two-hand touch rule for the quarterback would end the current confusion caused by normal, routine-looking hits that lead to flags and free first downs. It would lower the number of quarterbacks injured -- Arizona, Houston, St. Louis and Tennessee have lost quarterbacks to injuries this season -- and bumbling backups just aren't as interesting to watch as starters. No more endless debates about what part of a quarterback can be hit in what manner. Make the rule that a "passer stance" player simply cannot be hit, but is down by two-hand touch.

At times such a standard would work against the offense. Quarterbacks may wriggle out of sacks, then scramble to make big plays. There would be no wriggling out of a two-hand touch. The down would end.

The rules already treat a quarterback who has taken off running as a regular ballcarrier, so no change is needed there. A two-hand touch standard for the quarterback when he is a passer would eliminate booing over ticky-tacky roughing- the-passer calls, make games more interesting by reducing quarterback injuries, and give the defense a better chance of a sack, since the quarterback could no longer wriggle away. This rule change is what TMQ wants for Christmas!

In holiday news, Tuesday Morning Quarterback sends good wishes to my favorite interest groups: space aliens, mega-babes and football enthusiasts. Bells are ringing all across the local star cluster!

Stats Of The Week No. 1: In meetings of top teams, Dallas and Seattle defeated Indianapolis and Arizona by a combined 77-13.

Stats Of The Week No. 2: New England has gone five straight games without allowing a second-half touchdown.

Stats Of The Week No. 3: Arizona has not scored a touchdown in two games.

Stats Of The Week No. 4 Denver fourth-quarter possession results at Cincinnati: interception, punt, punt, interception, interception.

Stats Of The Week No. 5: For the second consecutive season, Miami scored the winning points in a game on a safety.

Stats Of The Week No. 6: In the last six seasons, Jacksonville is 6-6 versus Tennessee, 23-60 versus all other teams.

Stats Of The Week No. 7: Buffalo has not won in Oakland in 48 years.

Stats Of The Week No. 8: The Chargers are on a 15-2 stretch in December road games.

Stats Of The Week No. 9: The Patriots are on a 18-3 stretch in December road games.

Stats Of The Week No. 10: The Lions, who close their regular season at Green Bay, have lost 23 straight games in Wisconsin.

Sweet Play Of The Week: Start of the fourth quarter at Arizona, the defending champion Seahawks led 14-6 -- a manageable situation for the home team, but considering its problems on offense, the defense had no margin for error. Seattle facing second-and-20, the blitz-happy Cactus Wrens brought six men into pass-rush position. Russell Wilson must have seen exactly a blitz look that Seattle had practiced for because he immediately began giving the silent-snap leg signal. Tight end Luke Willson ran a seam route for a 39-yard gain, setting up Willson's touchdown three snaps later. Sweet.

The Bluish Men Group would carve up Arizona's vaunted defense for 596 yards on its own field, outscoring the home team 21-0 in the fourth quarter. Now Seattle holds the inside track for home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs: and Seattle is on a 23-2 stretch at home.

Sour Plays Of The Week: Trailing 19-17 at Oakland, the Bills took possession early in the fourth quarter. The situation was must-win for Buffalo: defeat meant elimination and extension of the team's league-worst playoff drought. Throughout the contest Buffalo had been using hyper-conservative short passes, including a super-short pass on third-and-10, the receiver not even attempting to run his route to the line-to-gain: a punt followed. This time the Bills go short pass, short pass, short pass, short pass, rush for 3 yards, short pass, short pass. Now it's third-and-1 at midfield. No high school coach -- no middle-school coach -- would call yet another short pass. Short pass to a receiver who was behind the line of scrimmage, swatted down by a linebacker.

That makes it fourth-and-1 at midfield, 8:22 remaining, Bills facing elimination. That cannot be the kicking unit! Boom goes the punt. Not only did Bills coach Doug Marrone passively surrender the ball on fourth-and-1 with the playoffs on the line, by his decision he communicated to his team that he was playing not to lose rather than playing to win. Oakland went the other way for a touchdown, and Buffalo's goose was cooked. A cooked goose stuffed with sour Warheads.

Sour 'N' Sweet Plays: Carolina leading 17-13 with 3:33 remaining, must-win situation for Cleveland, the Browns punted from midfield. Who cares if it was fourth-and-13? This sour play was Cleveland coach Mike Pettine making sure that if the Browns went down the players would be blamed for performing poorly, rather than him being blamed for a coaching decision.

Now the Cats have second-and-9 on their 21, 2:44 remaining and Cleveland holding two timeouts. Either rush to move the clock or if you throw, go for the home run. Cam Newton play fakes and throws deep to backup tight end Ed Dickson, 34-yard gain. After Cleveland spends its timeouts, the Panthers faced third-and-5 on the Cleveland 40. Jonathan Stewart runs 30 yards and in comes victory formation. Sweet for the Panthers, who now, if they defeat Atlanta next week, take the NFC South and host a playoff game at 7-8-1. If they tie Atlanta, they take the NFC South and host a playoff game at 6-8-2.

Sour 'N' Sweet Start Of A Rout: Dallas scored to take a 7-0 lead. On the subsequent possession, Indianapolis faced fourth-and-11 at its 19. The Boys lined up with no one across from either gunner, which the Colts must have come into the contest anticipating. Punter Pat McAfee called an "automatic" -- an audible that is dictated by the defense, as opposed to a signal coming in from the bench -- and threw a nice lob to gunner Dewey McDonald for what would have been the first down. McDonald, a rookie safety, dropped the pass as if it were a live ferret. McDonald was a defensive player in college and made the novice mistake of failing to look the ball into his hands.

On the first Dallas snap after the dropped pass, Tony Romo threw a touchdown strike to Dez Bryant on a simple go route. By intermission, the Cowboys would lead 28-0 and have a 17-4 edge in first downs. Rarely have consecutive snaps early in a game so changed the game tempo. The football gods chortled that after running a fake punt on fourth-and-11, on its next three possessions, Indianapolis punted on fourth-and-short. And the football gods chortled that Romo, 14-19 in December coming into this season, is 3-0 in December 2014.

Parents, Talk To Your Kids: Reader Jake Marcks of Chicago -- "originally from Green Bay, so I grew up in a football culture" -- put together an important public service announcement. How many years until this isn't satire? Perhaps not many, considering a recent Bloomberg poll.

A Cosmic Thought: At this time of the year, TMQ likes to remind that research steadily finds indications the cosmos is far larger, and human origin more ancient, than once assumed. A century ago, it was thought our Milky Way was the sum of creation: now it appears there are at least 50 billion galaxies, possibly a great many more. Only a few decades ago it was thought little happened in human history until recently. Now that's changing, too.

Here's a selection of recent human-origins thinking:

Our forebears began walking on two legs as much as six million years ago.

Our ancestors engaged in some kind of organized activity in what's now Spain 430,000 years ago.

People may have lived in what's now Brazil 22,000 years ago.

People definitely lived in Monte Verde, in southern Chile, about 15,000 years ago, and in Florida about 14,000 years ago. That pushes back previous thinking that the Clovis people of 13,000 years ago were the oldest in this hemisphere. The Monte Verde archeological site is about 7,500 miles by foot from the presumed place that ancient people began walking across the Bering land bridge into the Western Hemisphere.

The Bering land bridge is now referred to as Beringia by many researchers, because evidence suggests it may have had a human population for 10,000 years, about as long as Maine has been populated. During the period when seas were lower owing to the most recent ice age, Beringia may have been twice the size of Texas and, despite general cold, been relatively temperate owing to different ocean currents of the time. Many generations of people may have lived out their lives in this place, coexisting with mammoths and wooly rhinos. Science recently quoted Ian Barnes of the Natural History Museum in London saying people lived in Beringia "much earlier and longer than we thought."

Tools found near modern-day Yakutsk, in far northeast Russia, date to about 300,000 years ago, suggesting men and women had been dwelling in that general area for a long time before the land bridge was exposed: They would have perceived the world as steadily growing in size. In 2012, the governments of the United States and Russian Federation began a project to study our "shared Beringian heritage." What if it turns out some Paleo-Americans -- forebears of American Indians and South American indigenous people -- were, deep down, Russians?

Researchers Camilo Montes of Colombia and Carlos Jaramillo of Panama have found evidence suggesting the isthmus of Panama -- which allowed land animals of North and South America to mingle -- formed as long as 15 million years ago. If so, all theories about how the New World was populated may go back to the drawing board.

How Many Digits Does Santa Need To Get The Right Present Down the Correct Chimney?: One of the many things your columnist loves about this time of year is USPS, UPS and FedEx packages arriving at the door. Presents to give to others, presents to keep -- there are few pleasures like boxes that contain presents.

Checking on an expected arriving parcel, I found that the Postal Service had employed a 22-digit tracking number. Nine digits are needed to assign a unique number to every American citizen, with 684 million combinations to spare. Twenty-two digits is almost enough to assign a unique number to every star in the observable universe. A 22-digit number is a sextillion -- a 1 followed by a quadrillion millions. Yet the USPS needs that many digits to track a package. UPS is far more efficient, as it used a mere 18 digits to track a package. An 18-digit number is 100 quadrillion. Eighteen digits would seem enough to assign a unique number to every living thing in the galaxy. FedEx was super-efficient tracking my package with 11-digits. That's still a 10 followed by a billion, or more unique tracking numbers than there are people on Earth.

Authentic Games Standings: Doug Marrone's afraid-of-my-own-shadow game management causes Buffalo to be dropped as an Authentic team. So too are the Browns, Dolphins and 49ers, all eliminated. Dropping these four as Authentic entails reshuffling of the standings, as does adding Houston, which is still alive, if a long shot, while others have fallen away.

Dallas and Pittsburgh take big leaps in the recalculated Authentic Games index. Detroit looks suspect at 1-2, appearing in only three Authentic contests. One premise of this metric is that it's better to play lots of difficult games and lose some than to face only soft opponents: Which is why Indianapolis, 4-5 in Authentic Games, shouldn't panic. The Ravens and Texans look like pretenders, both 1-6 in Authentic Games -- with one of those measly two wins coming when they faced each other. With Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami and Santa Clara removed from the index, the total number of wins goes down, allowing Pittsburgh to take over first place at 5-1. And though the Broncos just took a beating on "Monday Night Football," at 6-3 they have the most Authentic wins so don't count them out.

ESPN Grade News: ESPN Grade sorts the Top 25 by graduation rate. Reader Ronald Dufresne of Marshfield, Vermont, put all FBS colleges into a database and found that if overall football graduation rates are weighted, rather than just the Top 25's graduation standing, the final four through Week 15 would be:

Alabama. 1 in AP, 1 in USA Today, 25 in GSR = ESPN Grade 27
TCU. 4 + 4 + 20 = ESPN Grade 28.
Ohio State. 6 + 6 + 29 = ESPN Grade 41.
UCLA. 16 + 17 + 12 = ESPN Grade 45.
Oregon drops out at 3 + 3 + 60 = ESPN Grade 66.
Florida State drops further at 2 + 2 + 89 = ESPN Grade 93.

In other football-academics news, Nina Mandell of USA Today reports Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss boasted that his team's overall GPA of 2.57 was highest "in recorded history" of Rebels football. So first, we don't know what Ole Miss football GPA was like during the Triassic Period. Second, 2.57 is a B-minus at best. This is the very best Ole Miss football players have ever accomplished? Third, since grade inflation has caused average GPAs to rise steadily, other things being equal we'd expect any college program's numbers to be higher than in the past. Fourth, considering the 2010 average GPA at public universities was 3, Ole Miss's football GPA means the team's academic performance is below average for its college type. That's better than being bad, but nothing to boast about.

Viewers Were Trapped in What They Were Tricked into Thinking Was an Outer-Space Show: Two weeks ago TMQ wondered how the mega-enormous starship of the heavily promoted SyFy Channel miniseries "Ascension" could have gotten into space using the technology of the 1960s. The Big Reveal turned out to be that the Ascension was never in space. Six hundred people were locked into an underground model of a mega-enormous starship, then tricked into thinking they were on their way to another star system. The real purpose was a sinister experiment in natural selection.

Okay, it's a TV show. But how were the original passengers of the Ascension made to believe they were in outer space if there was never a blastoff? Ascension is said to be moving at 5 percent of the speed of light, which would have meant weeks or months of hard g-forces during acceleration. The original passengers were said to be elite scientists, it would have been obvious to them they were inside something that wasn't accelerating. The original scientists would have wondered why there was no communication with Earth -- time lag, but no reason not to have radio contact. Even those born in space would have wondered how the Ascension could have Earth-norm gravity. "Artificial" gravity could be made by a torus-shaped spinning ship, but the Ascension is skyscraper-shaped and not spinning. And a century-long space voyage would get a little dull, but the characters seemed to spend every waking moment drinking. Moonshine could be made aboard. Where did the dozens of Champagne bottles, glittering capsules attached, come from?

The Football Gods Are Preparing to Chortle: Last season, Baltimore needed to win one of its final two games to reach the postseason and lost both. This season, the Ravens needed to win one of their final two and lost Sunday.

TMQ's Christmas List: Reader Tyler Drouin of Milwaukee hopes Santa leaves him a Kia Sorento -- the 2016 model goes on sale in January 2015 and was advertised in 2014. Randall Pierce of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is hoping for an Italian cashmere Union suit, on sale at just $469. TMQ hopes for fancy chocolates in a box with "Swarovski Elements". The "scintillating opulence" will leave recipients "speechless." Last week the gift was listed as out of stock, which appears to suggest the One Percent has so much money to burn that members can spend $150 on a box of chocolates. Ho ho ho!

Sour Drops of the Week Jimmy Clausen, who entered Sunday 1-9 in his NFL career as a starter, was booed almost from the outset by Bears home fans -- who were really booing management. With about two minutes remaining, Clausen had the Bears at midfield, trailing by three. Alshon Jeffrey dropped a well-thrown ball, then on the next snap dropped a well-thrown ball. Chicago receivers dropped four passes on the day. As Gisele B√ľndchen said of her husband: He can't throw them and also catch them.

A Cosmic Thought No. 2: Here's a selection of recent cosmic milestones: In general the universe is expanding but "locally" -- a very loose term in cosmology -- galaxies may move toward each other. Reader Graig McElroy of Chester, New York, notes astronomers have found a dense group of stars headed toward the Milky Way at a velocity that works out to about one-third of a percent of the speed of light. This is one of the highest velocities observed in nature for complex objects. (Subatomic particles may move much faster.) If entire groups of stars can move at a third of a percent of light speed, that suggests humanity someday will build ships capable of this speed. Such velocity wouldn't do much for interstellar travel: Proxima Centauri would still be 1,200 years away, the center of the galaxy would still be a million years away. But a third of a percent of light speed would open up the entire solar system for commerce, settlement and mischief. At that speed, Mars would be reached in a day. The earliest galaxy so far observed is about 13 billion years old and appears to have formed only about 700 million years after the presumed moment of the presumed Big Bang. That's sooner relative to the Bang than conjecture held that galaxies formed.

The most distant object glimpsed in the universe so far is about 13.1 billion light years away.

Brief, strong radio-wave bursts from beyond our galaxy have astronomers scratching their heads.

Bearing in mind that "small" in cosmic terms can be unfathomably vast, there may be huge numbers of hard-to-spot little galaxies, which could explain part of the "missing mass" problem of cosmology. Then again, maybe the "missing" mass isn't missing because it was never there.

Astronomers have spotted a free-floating planet that does not appear to have formed as part of a star system and seems "only" about 100 million years old. (The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.) If the galaxy is rich with rogue planets that aren't associated with stars, a lot of standard theories will go back to the drawing board.

TMQ's predicted cosmology surprise: much of the mysterious conjectured dark matter turns out to be regular matter that's hard to see, whether as "small" galaxies or rogue planets or in the intergalactic "void," which will turn out not to be a void.

Feast on some magnificent astronomy photos.

Compared to us, the firmament seems old and running down. But compared to itself, creation glistens with the dew of morning. Space is expanding; stars are still forming. The universe may last trillions of years or forever. Who can say what the cosmic enterprise might be? Happy holidays.

Hounds Of Renown: Madison Bumgarner made the cover of Sports Illustrated as Sportsman of the Year. Inside the magazine, he posed for a portrait with his dog. Further into the mag, Bumgarner posed with his dog in an endorsement ad for New Balance. Except ... it was a different dog.

Jets Last in Division, First in Boasting: Why does everyone around Rex Ryan contract chronic boasting disease? Geno Smith declared "I've shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback." When he said this, Smith had career totals of 20 touchdown passes and 33 interceptions. Then Sheldon Richardson said he is as good as J.J. Watt. When Richardson said this, he had 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one recovered fumble and no touchdowns; Watt at the same juncture had 16.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, five recovered fumbles and five touchdowns.

49ers' Run Ends with a Whimper: The Niners have gone from three straight NFC title appearances to unable to hold a 28-7 halftime lead at "home," if a team can be at "home" 45 miles from the city it's named for.

Santa Clara's passing attack continues to be awful, while the once-unstoppable Colin Kaepernick continues to regress. The Niners entered the contest with a league-worst 10 percent of dropbacks ending in sacks and a league-worst figure of recording touchdowns in just 14 percent of goal-to-go situations.

Still, a team that rushes for 355 yards at "home" surely sounds like it had a winning outing. Leading 35-21 in the fourth quarter, Niners coach Harbaugh/West, perhaps more concerned with calls to his agent than with his current duties, punted in San Diego territory. Just to prove it was no fluke, on the next Santa Clara possession, Harbaugh/West punted in San Diego territory. Now leading 35-28 with three minutes remaining, Harbaugh/West punted again in San Diego territory. Wondering how the Bolts staged their comeback? Three Niners punts in opposition territory in the fourth quarter.

Broncos No Longer Stat-a-Matic: Everyone's talking about how the Broncos faltered at Cincinnati on "Monday Night Football," rather than talking about how the Bengals triumphed. Cincinnati fans: Breathe. Find your center. Your moment will come. You must win a playoff game in this century before the sports media will consider your team on par with the Broncos.

What went wrong for Denver? The game was played in a downpour, and Peyton Manning has a longstanding preference for ideal conditions: the dome at Indianapolis, the Colorado sky that's always sparkling blue and low humidity. For weeks Bill Belichick has seemed to have a clear understanding that the AFC title may come down to where the Broncos and Patriots meet in January. Now any Denver-New England postseason meeting will occur in winter conditions in Massachusetts, opening the door to a Flying Elvii return to the Super Bowl.

Since the start of the 2012 season Denver is 39-12, so the Broncos must be doing something right. But there are warning signs. Including playoffs, Manning has thrown seven pick-sixes in that span, versus two for Tom Brady in the same period. Through the 2013 regular season, Denver scored at a record 37.9 points per game pace. Then the playoffs began and since then -- three postseason contests, 15 regular-season dates this year -- Denver scoring is down to 27.4 points per game. That's good, but over the same span Seattle, viewed as a low-scoring team, has averaged 25.9 points per game. Declining Denver scoring is partly caused by the Broncos' 2014 experiment with clock-control rushing. But mainly the cause is that in last season's playoffs, opponents began jamming Denver receivers, frustrating the team's designed-for-ideal-conditions passing attack.

On Monday night, Manning often saw the press coverages he's seen since last season's playoffs, yet responded by trying to throw super-short. Manning likes to throw super-short but this just doesn't work when receivers are jammed, as the Seahawks demonstrated in the Super Bowl. At Cincinnati, Manning didn't look down the field until the final minute of the first half. He looked down the field often in the third quarter, resulting in three Denver touchdowns. Then in the fourth quarter he went back to super-short passing and heave-hoed three interceptions.

Cincinnati leading 30-28, Denver took possession on its 20 with 4 minutes remaining. Manning threw super-short twice, setting up third-and-1. On the night the Broncos rushed for an average of 4.5 yards per carry, why not run for the first down? An audible to a deep pass also was attractive. Pre-snap, Manning saw seven Bengals on the line of scrimmage and 10 close to the line, a Cover 1 look that fairly screams, "Throw deep!" Instead the call was another super-short pass. Manning retreated 9 yards -- to gain 1 yard! -- then lobbed the ball short into double coverage for the pick-six that iced the contest. Ouch.

Manning was too fixated on super-short passes in the Super Bowl, too. It's the super-short pass that gets run back for a touchdown, when a defender cuts in front. If Denver snags a first-round bye, it needs to focus on rediscovering the deep pass.

The Denver offensive line played poorly, allowing a key sack on third-and-18 midway through the fourth quarter. A November offensive line shakeup seemed to be going well but at Cincinnati, Pro Bowl guard Louis Vasquez looked like a fish out of water at right tackle. In Denver's offense, tackles rarely have an in-line tight end next to them. That leaves tackles "on an island," so footwork -- the ability to change direction quickly -- matters a lot more than it does to a guard, who's in a sea of bodies, to complete the jaunty nautical analogy. Vasquez seems to lack the footwork necessary to play tackle. This will be obvious to defensive coordinators on film.

No One Will Miss the 113th Congress: The catchall spending bill approved by Congress last week follows the depressing recent pattern of that once-great institution -- delay, delay, delay then hundreds of pages of giveaways voted out in the dead of night without members being sure what they are voting on. The obscene giveaway to big banks -- the promise of federal bailouts if they make risky trades that fail -- represented one of the worst aspects of the U.S. political system, socialized risk but privatized profit. President Barack Obama was muted on this huge favor to insiders. Considering the giveaway raised the public profile of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, perhaps Obama doesn't want Hillary Clinton to succeed him. The Clinton crowd tried its darndest to keep Obama out of the White House, after all. Maybe he hopes to return the favor.

On the fringes of the Warren-Wall Street smackdown is the nomination of Antonio Weiss, a super-rich investment-bank insider, to be undersecretary of Treasury. Weiss has assets of at least $54 million, looks like a Bond movie villain, and stands to receive as much as $21 million in stocks and deferred pay from his investment bank if he takes a high government position. Essentially, he would come into government pre-bribed.

Supporters note Weiss signed this paper advocating higher taxes on the super-rich. Considering the paper lists eight authors "with" three think-tank staffers, it's likely the staffers actually did the work so the grandees could claim credit.

If the Treasury Department nominee favors higher taxes -- does he tax himself, voluntarily?

A longstanding TMQ contention is that important, wealthy people who say they want higher taxes at the top -- Weiss, Obama, Warren Buffett -- ought to set a good example by taxing themselves. Figure out how much more you'd owe under whatever tax-increase plan you support, and write a check. The United States Treasury definitely accepts checks! Or increase your taxes by declining to claim deductions. There's no obligation to take deductions: it's an option.

Any one rich person taxing himself or herself would do little to alter the overall national-debt equation. But this act would show sincerity and leadership. Treasury nominee Antonio Weiss -- put your money where your mouth is by taxing yourself, and disclosing the proof.

Do a Little Dance!: In a must-win situation at Pittsburgh, the Chiefs ran a sweet fake field goal -- holder tosses a shovel pass to a wingback -- for a first down, then settled for a field goal on the possession anyway. Now it's Steelers 10-6 with 27 seconds remaining before intermission, Kansas City facing fourth-and-1 on the Pittsburgh 12, Chiefs holding a time out. Normally conservative Andy Reid goes for it! But TMQ's Law of Short Yardage holds -- Do a little dance if you want to gain that yard. Power set, straight ahead rush -- no man-in-motion, no misdirection. Runner stuffed.

On the day, Kansas City was zero-for-four in the Pittsburgh red zone. Chiefs' faithful cannot be pleased that No. 1 overall draft selection Eric Fisher had a terrible outing, barely slowing a Steelers' rusher on a sack while being pushed into the backfield by 36-year-old James Harrison on a tackle for loss in a key late down. Nor that with one game to go, Kansas City has no touchdown reception by a wide receiver.

In Defense Of Officiating Errors: Last week an Oklahoma judge denied a petition to replay some or all of a high-school football game in which an officiating error cost the trailing team a late touchdown. Set aside that we live in a society where even prep sports questions end up in the courts. Is there ever a situation when a game outcome should be reversed?

Tuesday Morning Quarterback used to think so: "In one instance only, when an incorrect call occurs on the last play and a correct call would have given the victory to the other team." That standard rules out altering the outcome in the Oklahoma instance -- there was a minute left, the school that won might have gone on to win anyway. That standard rules out altering the outcome of the botched final-snap call of the Giants at 49ers 2003 playoff game. Had the officials' ruling been correct, Jersey/A would have replayed the down and might have lost anyway.

My old standard would allow reversals only in rare circumstances such as the 2012 Packers-Seahawks Fail Mary play, on which a botched ruling granted victory to Seattle. Had officials handled the down correctly, calling offensive pass interference against the Seahawks, the game would have ended. The key thing is not that Green Bay would have gotten the win; the key thing is that the game would have been over. There's no uncertainty.

But as the president might say, my thinking has evolved. Why should officiating late in a contest be corrected while an error early in the contest is not? In the Fail Mary game, both of Green Bay's first two scoring drives were aided by debatable penalties against Seattle. Fans tend to remember the flags that harm their teams but not the flags that help them. For instance, Denver fans will be complaining for weeks about the debatable face mask penalty that cost their charges a fourth-quarter long gain, yet may already have forgotten the debatable taunting penalty that cost Cincinnati a field-goal opportunity. In most cases, calls for and against balance out over the course of a game.

Weasel Coach Watch: Just two years after taking the Wisconsin job, Gary Andersen broke his promises to the players he recruited and sprinted out the door when money was waved. TMQ's Law of Weasel Coaches holds: When you hire a coach who's only in it for himself, you get a coach who's only in it for himself. Beavers faithful -- Andersen was a promise-breaker before, why think he's trustworthy now? Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez "told the Wisconsin State Journal that Andersen was unhappy with UW's strict academic standards" The perfect fit for the Oregon State program!

Calling George Orwell: Whatever one thinks of the ethics or legality of post-9/11 CIA actions, why is political debate stuck in euphemisms on this topic? Torture is "enhanced interrogation techniques." Government officials may be programmed to hide behind such euphemisms, but that does not mean others should. "Detainees" is an especially repellant weasel word. A person is detained when his train is late: years without trial at a black site means the person is a prisoner.

If there is a reasonable defense of post-9/11 CIA treatment of captives, it should be made in plain language -- that torture of prisoners can be justified. The government official who announces support for "enhanced interrogation of detainees" admits, through use of language, that what is being described is wrong. At the least, commentators should cease parroting the "detainee" euphemism. If a newscaster or columnist were thrown into a secret jail for years without trial, that person would not describe himself or herself as a detainee.

Blur Offense Honks Out: The clock struck midnight for Mark Sanchez, who turned back into a pumpkin as the heavily favored Eagles lost to the woeful Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons. Once 9-3 with an inside track to the postseason, the Eagles are now consigned to the couch for January.

Chip Kelly looked as though he thought he was back at Oregon coaching against a cupcake such as Tennessee Tech, with victory automatic. Philadelphia trailing 17-14 in third quarter, on fourth-and-1, Kelly sent in the field goal unit. The Eagles entered with the league's second-ranked offense: what good is the second-ranked offense if you're afraid to try on fourth-and-1 when trailing a bad team in a must-win situation? Outraged, the football gods pushed the field goal attempt wide.

She Uses Method Acting to Get in Touch With Memories of Other Planets: In the span of a little more than a year, Scarlett Johansson played a superhero ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), a flesh-eating space alien ("Under the Skin"), a disembodied computer ("Her") and a woman who shoots death rays from her mutated brain ("Lucy"). Lots of Hollywood celebs seem inhuman: Johansson is the first box-office star to be typecast as not human.

"Lucy," the most recent, is too preposterous to merit an accounting of plot holes. Christopher Orr was impressed by "the sheer quantity of inanity" squeezed into 89 minutes. TMQ's main beef with the absurdity was that as computers acquire more processing power they do not become able to travel in time, levitate, emit energy bolts or control distant objects by telekinesis -- so why would these happen to Johansson as her brain acquires more processing power? As Johansson's brainpower increases, she becomes ever-more violent. Perhaps director Luc Besson thought this a metaphor for society. It's a metaphor for Hollywood.

Disclaimer of the Week Reader Jack Reilly of Rutherford, New Jersey, bought a backyard pool for kiddies. The pool is 10 inches deep. Attached was a gigantic disclaimer warning that "Diving into shallow water can cause serious injury."

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk: Trailing by 11 points with six minutes remaining at Jacksonville, 2-12 Tennessee faced fourth-and-goal on the 5 -- and Ken Whisenhunt sent in the field goal unit. The Flaming Thumbtacks needed two scores, but if the trailing team takes the field goal in this situation, then it needs three scores -- field goal, touchdown, deuce conversion. And that's only to get to overtime, which is a 50/50 proposition. Two touchdowns win the game! The end zone was only five yards away, and needless to say, Tennessee never got near it again. Last season the Titans were plagued by hyper-conservative tactics from Mike Munchak; hyper-conservatism continues with Whisenhunt, and the results are the same. The combined 4-24 record of this collision has been exceeded for awfulness quotient only three times in NFL annals, mostly recently a 1991 game when the Bucs and Colts met at a combined 3-27.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk No.2 Trailing 21-6 with 10:37 remaining, Arizona punted on fourth-and-4 from its 37. Sure the Cardinals offense is struggling, but Arizona needed points, and touchdowns don't come out of the sky. Two snaps later the deficit was 28-6 and home fans were headed to the exits.

NBA Race to the Bottom Intensifies: With Rajon Rondo traded, the Celtics now hold at least nine first-round choices in the next four drafts, possibly 10 depending on fine print, plus extra second-round selections. Hey 76ers -- two can play at the deliberate-losing game! If only it were just two: many of the NBA's teams are diving into the tank, though attaining high draft picks often doesn't even work. The Knicks, 5-25 as of Tuesday, are cooperating with the Celtics in the goal of making a mockery of old NBA rivalries. The upcoming Timberwolves at Philadelphia contest may be among the worst NBA games all time in terms of combined records.

So be a proud fair-weather fan and write off the Knicks, Celtics, 76ers and others until such time as they may improve. Stay true to your favorite college basketball team because colleges play a larger role in society. NBA teams are just entertainment organizations. When the entertainment is bad, write 'em off.

Adventures in Officiating: On the down that became the 39-yard pass to Luke Willson, Russell Wilson wanted to quick-snap before Arizona might change fronts. The Hawks were using a silent snap based on Wilson lifting his leg. When he lifted his leg and the center didn't deliver the ball, Wilson began jumping up and down to signal for the snap. He appeared to be rehearsing for an Irish step-dancing competition.

Why wasn't this illegal motion? TMQ often has asked how Peyton Manning can do his presnap chicken dance without drawing a flag. Wilson's jumping around without a flag took this even farther.

The illegal motion rule: "When the ball is snapped, one player who is lined up in the backfield may be in motion, provided that he is moving parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage. No player is permitted to be moving toward the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. All other players must be stationary in their positions." Wilson was not even similar to stationary. Here's the rule cited to excuse Manning's chicken dance: illegal motion "does not apply to an offensive player under the center who turns his head or shoulders, unless the movement is an obvious attempt to draw an opponent offside." Wilson wasn't turning his head or shoulders, he was jumping. Here's a rule that suggests Wilson should have been flagged for false start: "Any obvious attempt by the quarterback or other player in position to receive the snap to draw an opponent offside is a false start." Had Wilson's Irish step dancing caused an Arizona player to jump offside, the Cardinals surely would have been flagged.

Leftover Moments From My Bye Week: Following a safety, Green Bay tried an onside kick on a free kick. Following a double dead-ball foul, the Giants onside kicked from the Washington 35-yard line. An odder pair of onside kicks you won't often see.

In the Jersey/A-Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons game, with 17 seconds remaining in the first half and holding one time out, Sure-to-Be-Former Head Coach Jay Gruden had the choice of second-and-goal at Giants' 2 or first-and-goal at the Giants' 4. He took latter. Gruden gave up yards near the goal line, the hardest yards to gain in football, in exchange for an extra snap. But the clock situation meant all play calls had to be passes, telling the Giants they didn't need to defend the run. Not many coaches deliberately move away from the goal line with 17 seconds remaining, while forcing his offense to use only passes deprived Washington of the run, on a day when the Persons averaged 5.3 yards per rush. You've already guessed that the Persons ended up with no points on the possession.

Trailing by seven points with five minutes remaining at Pittsburgh, facing fourth-and-2, Atlanta coach Mike Smith sent out the punt unit. Needless to say the Falcons -- who came into the game with the league's softest defense statistically -- never touched the ball again.

Trailing Arizona by 9 points with six minutes remaining, a loss meaning elimination, facing fourth-and-goal at the Cardinals' 1, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher sent in the placekicking unit. Yes, Les Mouflons needed two scores. But a field goal can be launched from long distance, St. Louis was just one yard away from the touchdown it had to get. The closest the Rams would come for the remainder of the contest was the Arizona 43.

Two weeks ago when hosting New England, San Diego coach Mike McCoy sent in the punting unit at midfield when down two scores in the fourth quarter. Words failed me. Now hosting Denver and down six points in the third quarter, San Diego faced fourth-and-2 on the Broncos' 19. McCoy sent in the placekicking unit. One doesn't defeat a high-scoring team by settling for field goals! Outraged, the football gods pushed the try wide. The Bolts' back-to-back home losses to contenders keyed in large part to McCoy using "safe" tactics.

Green Bay is now 0-6 at Buffalo. The Packers' consolation is that it will be at least four years until they go to Buffalo again.

Note to Readers: I am always grateful for correspondence, but get such a huge volume through the email tabs at the header and side of this column that I read only a tiny fraction, selected randomly. Comments invariably are smart and insightful: I wish there were enough time in the day to read them all. Your best odds are to send a short comment to @EasterbrookG.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Seattle leading 21-6 in the fourth quarter at Arizona, the Cardinals had no margin for error on defense. The Bluish Men Group faced first-and-15 deep in their territory. Arizona put nine men into the box against the expected clock-killer run. Marshawn Lynch broke through and reached the Seattle 45, where he was hemmed in at the sideline by Patrick Peterson and Rashad Johnson. Antonio Cromartie, the third defender close to Lynch, came to a complete stop and watched.

That Lynch managed to escape Peterson's grasp is impressive -- Peterson seemed to be trying to shove the Seattle tailback out of bounds rather than use proper form and wrap up. Ricardo Lockette, an undrafted Division II player who is a TMQ favorite, hustled like mad to get downfield and block Johnson out of the action. Cromartie simply stood watching as Lynch got away, not beginning to hustle until it was too late to stop the 79-yard touchdown that all but ended Arizona's bid for home-field advantage leading up to a Super Bowl on Arizona's home field.

Antonio Cromartie -- you are guilty of the Single Worst Play of the Season. So far.

Next Week: Who will be fired on Black Monday?