Sport Seattle, led by Russell Wilson, are favourites to win next month's Super Bowl

For devotees of the NFL, this is as good as it gets – the divisional round of the play-offs, four games pitting the regular season’s finest against four challengers already battle-hardened by victory in last weekend’s ever-treacherous wild-card round. And in 2014 there’s an extra twist: the prospect that one of the longest, most painful droughts in US sport might be near an end.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) dives for a touchdown

American Football: Colts come back from dead to beat Kansas City

Indianapolis pulled off the second biggest comeback in NFL play-off history to stun Kansas City, while New Orleans beat Philadelphia on the last play of the game as the first wild-card games provided a thrilling start to the post-season.

A man walks along a snow covered Cass Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. The first major winter storm of 2014 bore down on the US northeast on Thursday and Friday with heavy snow, Arctic temperatures and strong winds

Arctic blast kills at least 16 across US Northeast

A second storm is set to hit the region over the next few days that could be even worse, just as the clean up begins

Bryce Brown #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by Glover Quin #27 of the Detroit Lions

NFL: A blizzard helps blow in the liveliest weekend of the season so far

A round-up of the latest events and talking points from the world of NFL

Carlos Juan Finlay: Physician's 180th birthday marked with Google Doodle

The Cuban physician Carlos J Finlay has been honoured with a Google Doodle on the 180th anniversary of his birth.

How the convicted nephew of a Kennedy could become an unlikely poster boy for reform of the US justice system

He's rich and well-connected. But Michael Skakel's case deserves close examination

Chemring’s profits hit by shutdown in Washington

The grenade and bomb detector maker Chemring has warned that the US political shutdown is likely to hit its profitability this year.

3.5 billion of the new notes have been produced, worth $350bn

US unveils new $100 bill to foil foreign counterfeiters

The US Federal Reserve has begun circulating new $100 notes, introducing new anti-counterfeiting features – including a distinctive splash of colour – that have been more than a decade in the making.

Liberty Island - location for the Statue of Liberty - will be off-limits for the duration of the shutdown

Simon Calder: What effect will the US shutdown have on British tourists travelling to America?

The closure of so many key attractions is likely to put pressure on the museums and galleries which are open

Peyton Manning

NFL: Winless and undefeated - the Manning's are worlds apart

A weekly look at the biggest talking points in the NFL

US rapper Jay-Z performing during a concert

Review: Jay-Z - Made in America is an inspirational tale but we want to know hip-hop legend better

The collaboration between director Ron Howard and hip-hop legend Jay-Z on a music documentary may at first glance seem crazy, but it soon becomes apparent that the director of Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind is perfect for the job.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis. Windmill, £7.99

Tough love in hard times  from a mother  of courage

Franklin D'Olier Reeve

F D Reeve: Poet, novelist and Russian translator

In the early stages of his career, the poet F D Reeve found himself best-known as the translator who accompanied Robert Frost on his 1962 visit to the Soviet Union, the man in the middle of Frost's showdown with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Years later, having established himself as a poet, novelist and translator, Reeve would find himself overshadowed again – by his eldest son, Christopher, who achieved fame playing Superman in the smash 1978 movie hit.

Ms Clinton said anyone who believed that racial discrimination was no longer a problem in US elections 'must not be paying attention'

Hillary Clinton attacks US Supreme Court ruling on voters’ rights

Speech is first high-profile engagement since leaving State Department

Passengers exit the plane in Philadelphia

No bomb found on plane from Ireland that made emergency landing in Philadelphia despite threat call

Investigators says the person who placed the call could face serious criminal charges

Fishy Phily? Don’t be dilly: Philadelphia with smoked salmon and dill

It’s been a busy couple of years at Philadelphia HQ. The range of pallid spreadable cheese seems to  be attempting to catch up to Heinz when it comes to varieties of flavour.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering