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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone