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.

Lives Remembered: Eric Dehn

Eric Harold Dehn, my former colleague at Bristol Grammar School, was a remarkable man, of short stature but huge personality, who was born in 1916 and spent his working life between 1939 and 1976, apart from the years of the Second World War, as a French teacher at Bristol Grammar School. His teaching methods were idiosyncratic, conducting the whole of an 11-year-old's first lesson entirely in French and giving each boy a French name based on his surname, for example, but he gave the same care and attention to the pupil having trouble with French verbs as he did to the potential Open Scholar.

Felony fail: iPhone thief's photo sent to victim

A Philadelphia teenager who authorities say used a stolen cell phone to snap a photo of himself that automatically got sent to the victim has turned himself in.

Paul Wendkos: Director who made his name as a pioneer of made-for-television films

Paul Wendkos, who has died aged 84, had the misfortune of seeing his first Hollywood film become a massive hit. Gidget (1959) starred Sandra Dee as the eponymous 16-year-old “girl midget”, a prototype “beach bunny” chasing fun and romance among California’s surfers. It marked the beginnings of the surf craze which encompassed pop music typified by the Beach Boys and a slew of movies, including two Gidget sequels which Wendkos also directed. Trapped at Columbia Studios, Wendkos never directed a major feature, or had another big hit, but became a mainstay of episodic television, and in the 1970s carved out a substantial career as one of the first, and best, directors of “made-for-television” movies.

I met Abraham Lincoln – and here's the proof

Letter to a schoolboy on yellowed paper, valued at $60,000, shows a new face of the President

Al Martino: Singer who had Britain's first No 1 single and played Johnny Fontane in 'The Godfather'

There have been several impressive recording debuts but few, if any, have shown more confidence than 24-year-old Al Martino's 1952 performance of the romantic ballad, "Here In My Heart". Back then, a singer had to perform along with the orchestra and nothing could be changed afterwards. Martino soared to the top of his range for a thrilling top E, equalling anything his friend, Mario Lanza, had done.

Gore Vidal's United States of fury

At 84, the writer and activist may be confined to a wheelchair, but his rage – at his country, its leaders and citizens – burns as fiercely as ever. Johann Hari watches the sparks fly

Rodney King vs the police: round two

Victim whose beating in 1991 sparked riots across LA agrees to box renegade Philadelphia officer in charity bout

Album: The Rebel Yell, Love & War (BBE)

James Poyser has been a vital part of Philadelphia's Soulquarians generation, his production and keyboard skills crucial components in the success of such as Erykah Badu, Common, D'Angelo, Jill Scott and The Roots. With 'The Rebel Yell', he steps out as prime mover of his own project, fronted by lead vocalist SupaStar.

Benjamin Jealous: The Future of the NAACP? Radio 4<br/>Between Ourselves, Radio 4

A campaign marred by bickering and led by a mouse

Obits in Brief: Philip D. Curtin

Philip D. Curtin, who died on 4 June at the age of 87, was an historian best known for his work on the slave trade, and for changing the way the subject is taught.

Randy Cain: Founder member of the Philly soul group the Delfonics

The falsetto soul hits "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", "La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by the Delfonics are so evocative of the early Seventies that they regularly feature on the soundtracks of films like Quentin Tarantino's blaxploitation homage, Jackie Brown. Yet the records made by the Philadelphia vocal trio still sound fresh and distinctive and have been covered by Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Todd Rundgren and Prince. The grooves and melodies devised by producer Thom Bell have proved so infectious that they have been sampled on myriad hip-hop and R&B releases by Notorious B.I.G., Missy Elliott and the Fugees.

Groove is in his heart: Chic's Nile Rodgers on the unlikely inspiration for 'Le Freak'

Nile Rodgers, the funkmaster general, talks candidly to Nick Coleman about the death of his musical partner Bernard Edwards, why he started touring again &ndash; and how Chic's biggest hit began as an ode to doormen

Steven Wells: Journalist celebrated for his 'ranting poetry' and iconoclastic pop writing

Few cancer memoirs have happy endings. Nine days before his death from enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma, the British journalist and pop, sport and political polemicist Steven Wells – "Swells" to all who knew him personally – wrote his last column for the Philadelphia Weekly. In it, he struggled to sum up his life's work as a socialist and moralist of unbending principle, tempered, but never contradicted, by an outrageous gift for tragicomic fantasy and verbal fireworks.

Fayette Pinkney: Singer with the Three Degrees

In the 1970s, the Three Degrees embodied a certain style of classy, sophisticated, orchestrated soul, and were equally at home on Top Of The Pops, TV variety shows, in cabaret or in the presence of royalty. Indeed, the easy-on-the-ear, easy-on-the-eye girl trio from Philadelphia who topped the UK charts in 1974 with the soft, smooth, seductive "When Will I See You Again", became favourites of Prince Charles and were even tagged "Charlie's Angels" by the British tabloids.

Am I Black Enough For You (12A)

If you've heard of Billy Paul at all, it's almost certainly because of his one hit back in the early Seventies, "Me and Mrs. Jones": his next single, from which this documentary takes its title, was a flop and his career tumbled.

Arts and Entertainment
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Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
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Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

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George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
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George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album