FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — During his postgame press conference late Sunday night, Bill Belichick was asked what impact the New England Patriots’ regular-season schedule had on the team’s success.

The Patriots had just demolished the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC championship game to secure the franchise’s eighth Super Bowl berth.

“We had a six, seven-week stretch there where it seemed like every team was at the top of (its) division and playing really well,” he said. “In the end it probably served us well. We played great competition all year.”

Well, strap in, because the best is yet to come.

The Patriots will play the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 1.

It will be, they know, their toughest game of the season.

“Those guys are good man,” said Matthew Slater, New England’s special teams ace. “Obviously, when you get to this game, it’s never easy. Those guys have some of the great, great players in the league and it’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Patriots fans were worried when New England had to play the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. It wasn’t a good matchup and the Patriots had to rally from 14 points down twice before winning, 35-31.

Well, the Seahawks are a better, more talented version of the Ravens. And that’s all you need to know.

Seattle’s defense was ranked first overall in the NFL this season, giving up 261.7 yards per game. Led by the Legion of Boom secondary (cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas), the Seahawks were No.1 against the pass, giving up just 185.6 yards per game.

Their front seven was pretty good in the regular season, too. Seattle was ranked third against the run (81.5 yards) and had 37 sacks.

This is not a team you want to mess with. They are big, smart and they like to hit people.

The same goes for Seattle’s offense, which had the No.1 rushing attack in the NFL. Led by Marshawn Lynch’s 1,306 yards, Seattle averaged 172.6 rushing yards per game.

Quarterback Russell Wilson, who has never lost a game to a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl, is a double threat, with 849 rushing yards and 3,475 passing yards.

And they are battle-tested. The Seahawks probably shouldn’t even be in the Super Bowl.

They trailed the Green Bay Packers 19-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the NFC championship game on Sunday, yet rallied – aided by some awful special-teams play by the Packers – and won in overtime, 28-22.

That’s what makes all of this so intriguing.

Can the Patriots crack that secondary? Can they continue to run the ball as they did against the Colts, when LeGarrette Blount rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns?

Seattle has been susceptible to the run in its two playoff wins: Carolina rushed for 132 yards, the Packers 135.

If the Patriots can do that, it will make Tom Brady’s play-action passing game so much more effective.

New England’s offensive hijinks in its two playoff wins – a touchdown pass from wide receiver Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola, a 16-yard touchdown pass to tackle Nate Solder, formation manipulations making the defense wonder who is an eligible receiver and who isn’t – are likely to continue.

And Seattle, which scored on a fake field goal against the Packers, can throw a lot of offensive formations at the Patriots, too.

In Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll – the man who preceded Belichick in New England – you’ve got two of the NFL’s best motivators and innovators.

Vince Wilfork, who is the only Patriot other than Brady to have a Super Bowl ring, is ready. “Everybody plays for this game,” he said. “To have a chance to win the Super Bowl, and now it’s here. There’s no more talking.”

There will be more talking, for sure, because each team has something else to play for.

The Seahawks are attempting to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers (32-29) and Philadelphia Eagles (24-21) back-to-back to close out the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Beating the Patriots would make that even sweeter.

And the Patriots? Well, this is their sixth trip to the Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era, an unheard-of accomplishment in this age of NFL parity.

But it is the last two trips that still gnaw at the Patriots, both gut-wrenching losses to the New York Giants.

They know what this game means.

“We’ve had a lot of good teams in the past,” said Brady in his postgame interview. “This one is going to have to win a very important game to kind of leave our legacy.”

It’s all set up for a marvelous game. It may end up not being real pretty, but it promises to be exciting. Let the countdown begin.