Colts vs. Patriots huge? You bet ...

KEN FIDLIN

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

For once, hype is unnecessary. Oh, there's been plenty of it anyway but today's New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts matchup needs no embellishment.

It's the most compelling regular-season game in any pro sport in memory. Better yet, the game's allure doesn't revolve around an individual milestone but around two teams which have separated themselves from the pack by a wide margin.

"What we have is the rivalry of its time," CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz said. "It has been this way for a long time, since New England had Indianapolis' number and Peyton (Manning) couldn't beat them. Of course, they've turned that around in the past three matchups. We've got (Tony) Dungy and (Bill) Belichick and Manning and (Tom) Brady, two high-powered offences, both teams undefeated. It's spectacular."

Adding intrigue is the fallout from the public disgrace the Patriots and Belichick suffered after the NFL levied record fines over the illegal videotaping incident against the Jets in the season-opener. Since then, Belichick has been coaching angry and the Pats have been destroying everyone and everything in sight.

"Bill (Belichick) will take anything and everything," former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "All of us as coaches, all we wanted was some little material we could take and run with, and we could blow out of proportion and we could sell to our players. These two teams are reflections of their coaches. If their coaches told them they would have to walk to their next game, they would walk to the next game. When you talk about running up the score they are playing with a chip and an edge, and Bill can control that in whatever way he wants."

Nantz is convinced this broadcast will be ranked in the top five of the year. And not just including sports telecasts.

"No. 1 being the Super Bowl," Nantz said. "No. 2 being the AFC Championship game, No. 3 is going to be this game, fourth will be the Patriots-Dallas, and the finals of American Idol, so there you have it."

This is also one of those events, like a heavyweight fight, that has attracted fans from all over North America to be in Indianapolis today.

Ticket brokers were doing a brisk business, offering nosebleed end-zone seats for $350 apiece, while seats between the 30 yard lines were fetching as much as $1,700. VIP and club seating could set you back as much as $5,000.

BIG GAME LITE

There is another battle of first-place teams today, though nobody outside of Green Bay or Kansas City might be aware. These teams might not be undefeated but both have been on the warm side lately. The Chiefs, who share the AFC West lead at 4-3, are coming off a bye week but have won four of their past five. The NFC North-leading Packers have won 10 of their past 11, stretching back to last season, 6-1 this year, including last Monday's thrilling overtime win at Denver.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre isn't taking a back seat to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, either. If he can pitch his team to a win today, he will join Brady and Manning in an exclusive club of quarterbacks who have defeated every other team in the league. K.C. is last on Favre's list, having beaten he and the Packers in 1993, 1996 and 2003.

CONTROVERSIAL STUFF

Having faced each other for three years in practice, Detroit receiver Roy Williams and Denver cornerback Dre' Bly will be battling for bragging rights in Detroit. Williams wasn't shy about providing bulletin board material.

"Dre is not a hitter," said Williams. "Dre is a no-hitter. If I was to run 10 routes on Dre, it would probably be 60-40, advantage me."

Bly and Williams were teammates until Bly was traded to the Broncos this year.


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