Super Bowls aren’t won in mid-December.

Not usually, anyway.

But when the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers meet Sunday in Pittsburgh, there will be plenty at stake. It can be argued, in fact, that the winner will emerge as the likely Super Bowl champion in February.

The Patriots and Steelers are, quite simply, the NFL’s two best teams. Sunday’s winner will have the upper hand to secure the top seed in the AFC playoffs and home-field advantage for what, in all likelihood, will be a rematch in the AFC championship game.

That could spell the difference on the path to the Super Bowl, and the postseason survivor between the Patriots and Steelers likely will be the favorite in February.

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, for one, is not downplaying how meaningful this game is.

“If you set out on the season to be world champs, then obviously you’re going to play in significant games along the way,” Tomlin said in a conference call this week with Boston-area reporters. “The road gets increasingly narrow. That’s part of being on the pursuit of world championship play. “So it’s ridiculous to goal-set and not to acknowledge natural things that occur along the way if you’re committed to the pursuit of your goals.”

The Steelers (11-2) have the AFC’s best record. But if the Patriots (10-3) prevail Sunday, they will pull even and own the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage.

The Steelers enter with an eight-game winning streak. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a 506-yard passing performance in Sunday night’s triumph over the Ravens.

The Steelers’ offense is fully revved up, with wide receiver Antonio Brown and tailback Le’Veon Bell having standout seasons that put them in the league MVP conversation.

The MVP front-runner, now that Carson Wentz is hurt, probably is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But all is not exactly well at the moment with Brady and the Patriots. Their offense was disjointed and out of sync as the Patriots lost Monday night at Miami, ending their winning streak at eight games.

Brady, who threw two interceptions to cornerback Xavien Howard, missed practice time leading up to that game because of an ailing Achilles’ tendon and didn’t appear particularly comfortable moving around in the pocket. He was unable to get the ball to wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, and he and the offense suffered while tight end Rob Gronkowski served his one-game suspension for his late hit on Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills.

Gronkowski returns to the lineup in Pittsburgh and the Patriots need him to be a difference-maker.

“He’s obviously a big part of our offense and gets a lot of targets, and he makes a lot of big plays,” Brady said at his weekly news conference. “I think when he’s out there, it’s just tougher to defend. The better players you have on the field, the tougher it is to defend.

“And Gronk’s been one of the best to ever play at that position. So it’s good for our offense.”