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.

`Breakthrough'on arthritis

A 68-year-old American woman has become the first recipient of gene therapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis, scientists said yesterday.

American Football: Mid Term Report: Journeymen venturing into the unknown

At its half-way stage the 1996 NFL season has produced any number of unlikely heroes, writes Matt Tench

Emergency safety checks on world's most popular jet

All Boeing 737 jetliners, the world's most widely used passenger planes, will be tested within 10 days for potential safety problems in the rudder systems, it was announced yesterday.

Mr Mysterioso

Moody, magisterial and magnificent: that's Ahmad Jamal's jazz

Lottery winner is a loser in life

The parable of Buddy Post is one that should be printed on the back of every lottery ticket. Like the health warning on packets of cigarettes, it would remind players that even if - by some remote chance - they should land the jackpot, the effect on their lives could be ruinous.

Sports Betting: 49ers displace Dallas

After their third Super Bowl victory in four years, it seemed inconceivable that the Dallas Cowboys would start the new NFL season as anything but firm favourites. After a summer of mishaps, however, it is San Francisco who have attracted all the money.

Tom Weiskopf wins Pittsburgh Senior Classic

Brian Barnes fired a tournament best six-under-par final round 66 but it was not enough to deny Tom Weiskopf, of the United States, victory at the Pittsburgh Senior Classic in Midway, Pennsylvania. The Briton, a Senior Tour rookie who was playing under a sponsor's exemption, finished at eight under par to tie for second place with J C Snead.

ARTS; THE IMPORTANC; E OF BEING ANDY

Like Oscar Wilde, Andy Warhol only put his talent into his works, while reserving his genius for his life. Nine years after his death his influence looms larger than ever

Two Trains Running Tricycle Theatre, London

Come the millennium, we can expect a spate of plays that try to sum up "the experience" of the 20th century from the perspective of a particular group of people. For some dramatists, it may well be a sweat to meet this deadline. August Wilson, though, can sit back and relax because he will already have accomplished such a project - by instalment.

O'Donnell lets down Steelers

SUPER BOWL XXX: Two second-half interceptions hand Dallas a third title in four years

A legend in the running

Phoenix are steeling themselves for a Cowboy whose stardom has no end zone.

Stewart the jock of all trades

Matt Tench on Kordell Stewart, the running, catching, passing quarterback

Super Bowl chance to beat the odds

The NFL - like most of American sport's administrative bodies - claims to detest gambling on its games, but yet again they may have the bookies to thank if anyone is still watching at the end of Super Bowl XXX. Dallas, 1-4 with the Tote, are long odds-on favourites to pulverise Pittsburgh in Phoenix on Sunday, but the question for punters is, can they also beat the spread?

city slicker Pittsburgh

This Sunday, American football fans will be glued to the Pittsburgh Steelers against hot favourites the Dallas Cowboys, in Super Bowl XXX. This week in Pittsburgh, one of the USA's most surprisingly likeable cities, they're decking the place out in the team colours, with black and gold banners, and the weekend will be one big party - whatever the result

Underdogs just fail at final hurdle

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Dallas and Pittsburgh struggled to reach Super Bowl, reports Matt Tench
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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police