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Next week’s matchup between the NFL’s only unbeaten teams is the most important football game ever.

Grown men across the globe will weep at kickoff as they bask in its glory.

The Pope has already declared it a religious holiday.

The military is worried that the collision of superpowers might result in a devastating chain reaction of awesomeness.

At this point, any of those scenarios is as likely as the New England Patriots’ visit to Indianapolis actually living up the to hype, which began weeks ago.

Sunday’s game will be the eighth time in the last five years the two AFC powerhouses have squared off, with the Colts dropping the first four and winning the last three. Five of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The winner of the three playoff matchups has gone on to claim a Super Bowl title.

And this time the teams are a combined 15-0 heading into the semi-annual rivalry, adding to the drama.

The Colts have stayed undefeated despite missing key players, such as wide receiver Marvin Harrison, to injuries, and the Patriots are on pace to rewrite nearly every scoring record in NFL history.

It’s a rare chance to see, halfway through the season, which team without question is the best in the league.

And that’s the problem.

If the contest is the anticipated nail-biting slugfest which comes down to a last-second, game-winning field goal (can Adam Vinatieri kick one for both teams in the same game?), it still leaves the Colts and Patriots where they are right now: No. 1 and No. 2 in the league, well above everyone else.

The loser still has at least a one-game edge in the AFC standings over the closest third-place team, assuming the Pittsburgh Steelers can hold off the Baltimore Ravens in their contest next week.

And the AFC has a problem sending its best teams to the Super Bowl at the end of the year. The conference’s No. 1 seed at the end of the regular season has gotten to the Super Bowl only three times since 1994.

Last year, the high-powered San Diego Chargers offense, which led the team to a 14-2 regular-season record, collapsed in its first playoff game against the Patriots. The previous year the Colts, who won their first 13 games and finished 14-2, lost their playoff opener to the sixth-seeded Steelers.

So a hard-fought victory for either team doesn’t guarantee the Colts or the Patriots will get to a rematch in the AFC championship game in January.

And that’s assuming the victory is hard-fought. The Colts’ opponents have only twice come within a touchdown of winning this year, and they’ve steamrolled teams like the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Patriots’ closest game was a 34-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns, and they’ve been even more impressive in victories over supposed difficult opponents like the Chargers and the Washington Redskins.

Too often, great matchups on paper turn out to be one-sided blowouts. Just look at the Super Bowl scores over the last few decades.

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