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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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible