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.

Glasvegas' James Allan: 'There's no end to the Boss's abilities'

The first piece of music I ever bought was "Streets of Philadelphia". I was 11. It's a love song. A message of love, highlighting pure community and freedom of faith. I like those things. I really do. When I was a little boy, I never wanted to admit I liked music or girls. I was really crippled by shyness and for reasons I don't understand now, I hid the tape from my mum. I was attracted to his obvious soul, good heart and pure genius. The movie Philadelphia and the Care Bears cartoons broke my heart and made me want to show compassion to others.

The Roots, Royal Festival Hall, London

Collaboration’s all you need

Hollyweird: Mario Lanza

Everything about Mario Lanza was enormous: his talent, his prowess on stage, his ego, his lifestyle, and, often, his weight.

Neighbours who beat 'rape' man escape charges

Philadelphia's police commissioner says there will be no charges against neighbors who beat a man sought for questioning in the rape of an 11-year-old girl.

Neil Young: After the gold rush, the harvest

Sixties hippie, country-rock superstar, grunge godfather, modern protest singer... Neil Young's career is remarkable. Andy Gill gives thanks that the first segment of his huge retrospective is here at last

London legacy job goes overseas

A deputy mayor from Philadelphia will head the company set up to ensure the long-term use of London's 2012 Olympic facilities.

Bruce Anderson: The system isn't that broke - it only needs a slight fixing

An eruption of Poujadist anger will not improve our system of government

Hip-hop offers a new message

The aggressive image hides an intelligent aspect, says Ian Burrell

Researchers find first common autism gene

Researchers have found the first common genetic link to autism and said yesterday it could potentially account for 15 per cent of the disease's cases.

Death Row calling: The man broadcasting to save his life

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a US journalist, faces renewed calls for him to be put to death. Ian Burrell reports

The Ten Best NBA Playoffs

On Wednesday night the marathon 2008-2009 NBA regular season came to a close.

Hearst threatens to close historic 'San Francisco Chronicle'

San Francisco could become the biggest city in the US without a daily newspaper if the San Francisco Chronicle's owner, Hearst, follows through on a threat to shut its doors.

Album: Charles Evans, The King of All Instruments, (Hot Cup)

The instrument in question is the mighty baritone sax, which Philadelphia-born Charles Evans turns into a quartet, chamber group or bari-choir through judicious overdubbing on this intermittently amazing solo recording.

Obama heads along a historic trail to the White House

Crowds line 135-mile rail route to Washington
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Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders