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.

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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas