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.

Chris Reynolds briefly becomes world's richest person after PayPal 'credits' him with $92 quadrillion

Chris Reynolds became one thousand times wealthier than the total combined GDP of the whole planet

Vince Montana: Musician known as 'the Godfather of Disco'

Vince Montana: Musician known as 'the Godfather of Disco'

'It was so in-time and so beautiful,' he said of his work with MFSB, 'that it was like a religious feeling'

Jerry Seinfeld has collaborated with Wale on his new album

Watch out Jay-Z: Jerry Seinfeld is rap's new secret weapon

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

Album: Various artists, Philly Regrooved 3 (Harmless Company)

A third volume of "Philadelphia" hits and non-hits, wrangled at a variety of lengths (but mostly looong) by the original 1970s remixer, Tom Moulton.

Justin Rose

US Open 2013: The skies have it – Justin Rose joins Frank Lampard and Lionel Messi in the trend for a pointed celebration

Pointing to the skies in celebration is becoming ever more popular

Sergio Garcia on the way to a double-bogey on the 14th hole. The Spaniard needed uniformed officials to protect him from the crowd after his comments about Tiger Woods

US Open 2013: Phil Mickelson beats red-eye and bad weather to make strong start at Merion

World No 5 attended daughter's graduation hours before tee-off as deluge caused delays

Caleb McGillivary is accused of killing Joseph Galfy at his home

'Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker' denies murdering 73-year-old lawyer

A man who gained internet fame as “Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker” has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Sergio Garcia's 'fried chicken' remark overshadowed Wentworth

The Last Word: Please will the disease of sleaze ride out of the arena

The only remedy for despair is to remember darkest clouds blow through

Album: Various artists, Philadelphia Intl Classics - Tom Moulton Remixes (Harmless)

The greatest ever act of remixage? Well, this would have to be a contender.

Matt Butler: There's nothing Wimpy about slow-burning indoor bowls

View From The Sofa: World Indoor Bowls, 247.tv

One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, Tricycle Theatre, London

They don't make 'em like this any more - well, not quite. Written in 1982 by African-American dramatist Don Evans, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show whisks us back to the 1970s and takes a mischievously comic look at the then prevailing attitudes to ethnicity, class and sexual politics.

Diff'rent Strokes star Conrad Bain dies at 89

Actor Conrad Bain, best known for his role on the 1970s and '80s television comedy Diff'rent Strokes as a wealthy, white New Yorker who adopts two young black boys from Harlem, has died at age 89, his daughter has confirmed.

Woodland: he started his career on the Manhattan Project

N Joseph Woodland: Inventor of the barcode

Norman Joseph Woodland was an inventor who was ahead of his time. His creation, the barcode, was first devised in 1949, the result of a fortuitous coincidence and some inspired thinking. However these now ubiquitous black-and-white stripes were not put into full use until 25 years later, due to the limitations of the technology available.

Cancer cells: New treatment offers hope

Cells from patients' own blood spur cancer remissions

Nine leukemia patients are cancer-free after being treated with genetically-altered versions of their own immune cells, giving strength to a promising new approach for treating the blood cancer.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there