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.

The Diary: At least on a tour you may find a bathroom

THREE monumental events occurred last week: US Senator John Glenn returned to earth, President Clinton kept his pants up for seven whole days, and I returned to London's Playhouse Theatre. Let's be honest: John Glenn's feat was the most patriotic, Clinton's the most remarkable, but mine involved the most talent.

Tuesday Books: Black novels in `noir' tradition

A LESSON BEFORE DYING BY ERNEST J GAINES, SERPENT'S TAIL, pounds 9.99 I CAN'T WAIT ON GOD BY ALBERT FRENCH, SECKER & WARBURG, pounds 9.99

American Football: Steelers sunk by O'Donnell

NEIL O'DONNELL might be advised to steer clear of Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback led his side to an upset over his former team, the Steelers, scoring a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to give the Bengals an unexpected 25-20 victory.

American Football: Broncos bowl over Steelers to face Favre

The Denver Broncos survived a late comeback at Pittsburgh before winning the AFC Championship 24-21 on Sunday to take their place in the Super Bowl.

American Football: Inspired Elway brings more misery for Chiefs' chief

Marty Schottenheimer's reputation as an outstanding coach in the regular season who is unable to guide a franchise to the Super Bowl was further enhanced on Sunday night when his Kansas City Chiefs team were surprisingly beaten at home by the Denver Broncos in the NFL play-offs.

American Football: Giants back in the big time

The New York Giants clinched their first NFC East title in seven years thanks to a 30-10 victory over the Washington Redskins on Saturday.

Dave Scudamore wins Pittsburgh Marathon

Dave Scudamore, a 27-year-old medical student running his first marathon, qualified for this year's World Championships by winning the Pittsburgh Marathon yesterday.

Swanee set to go down the river

"Way down upon de Swanee Ribber, far, far, away ... oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary, far from de old folks at home." Some of the officially manuscripted lyrics of "Swanee River", the tale of a homesick slave which became the official anthem of the state of Florida. But is it politically correct?

American Football: WHERE THE GAME WILL BE WON AND LOST

Super Bowl XXXI New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers Preview by Matt Tench

Cowboys' surrender signals end of an era

American football

American football: Jaguars bowl over the Broncos

The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off one of the most astonishing upsets in NFL history when they beat the Denver Broncos 30-27 to clinch a place in the AFC Championship game.

Steelers make stunning drive

American Football

Ice hockey: Sheffield Steelers to send video evidence over Jamie Leach injury

Sheffield Steelers are to send video evidence to the British Ice Hockey Association after Jamie Leach, their leading points scorer, suffered a horrific injury in Thursday's defeat by Cardiff Devils. Leach had to leave the ice late in the game with a gash just below his left eye following a high sticking incident involving the Great Britain skipper, Shannon Hope. X-rays revealed a double fracture of the cheekbone which will keep him sidelined for up to six weeks.

American football: AFC trio look to be making up the numbers

Three AFC teams clinched their places in the play-offs but none of them did it in such a way on Sunday to suggest they will be around for very long.

Cowboys defense to the rescue

For much of the season it has looked improbable, occasionally close to impossible, but in the end the Dallas Cowboys wrapped up their fifth consecutive NFC East title with a game to spare. It came following Sunday's defeat of the New England Patriots and owed much to their resilience, and not a little to the faltering challenges of their principal rivals.
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John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

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Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
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Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

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UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

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Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

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Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

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Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most