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.

Man shoots girl he mistook for skunk

A 9-year-old girl who dressed up for Halloween was shot in the shoulder by a family member who mistook her black and white striped costume for a skunk.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, 103mins (12A)

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson

Duran Duran cancel third US gig

Duran Duran have cancelled a third consecutive American concert after a band-member contracted a suspected viral illness.

Submarine commander Michael P Ward II faked death to end affair

A US Navy submarine commander who faked his own death to end an extra-marital affair has been relieved of his duties.

US protests boost sales and fears of sonic blaster

Police deployment of sonic blasters at Occupy Wall Street and G-20 protest rallies is fuelling both sales and criticism of the devices, which emit beams of sound with laser-like intensity.

The Reading List: Strikes

Classic

In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck, Penguin Modern Classics £14.99

Steinbeck's novel about politics and labour in the United States, In Dubious Battle, is set in California apple farming country, where a strike by migrant workers spirals out of control, becoming a bloody clash of ideologies.

Gloves come off in the fight for the soul of ice hockey

The NHL faces calls to ice the mayhem after the latest brawl. Rupert Cornwell reports

Rupert Cornwell: 'Steel Town' shows US the art of survival

Out of America: Pittsburgh, heart of the rustbelt, reinvented itself after industrial collapse in the 1980s. Its rebirth offers hope to other smitten cities

Packers' Super Bowl victory could be the last NFL action of the year

Rodgers leads Green Bay to tense victory but brewing salaries dispute could lead next season to be cancelled

American Football: Penny drops as Big Ben finally grows up

After sex assault allegations and a horror motorbike crash, the Steelers quarterback lines up in tonight's Super Bowl as a 'changed man'

James Lawton: Forget Lombardi's Packers, Noll's 1980 Steelers were the masters of this blue-collar game

Noll built a defence of such power they were christened the Steel Curtain and his offence was a thing of great athletic beauty

Album: Bob Marley &the Wailers, Live Forever (Island)

Taken from a show in Pittsburgh in September 1980, Live Forever is the last recorded concert by Marley and The Wailers, but while it represents them at the broadest extent of their appeal, it by no means captures the band at their most potent.

American Football: Pittsburgh Steelers join Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl

Ben Roethlisberger does not expect to ever win a passing title or be voted the NFL's most valuable player but the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback does plan on adding another Super Bowl ring to his collection.

Rupert Cornwell: Twitter dialect says you are what you tweet

Out of America: Got 'sumthin' or 'suttin' to get off your chest? Go ahead. But from your 140 characters, experts will work out where you come from

George Blanda: American footballer who played in the NFL at the age of 48

In a sport where the average career lasts less than four years, George Blanda's lasted 26 seasons. Blanda retired after the 1975 season, at 48 the oldest man to play in a National Football League game, and at the time the only one to have played in four separate decades. His career record for points scored (2,002) stood for 25 years, but his reputation as the ultimate clutch player was cemented in one five-week period in 1970.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona from £949pp
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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

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Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

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Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

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‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

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Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

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Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

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The landscape of my imagination

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