There is a chance that we could be watching the end of Peyton Manning's career. That is the absolute worst-case scenario and the odds seem beyond long, but according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen via sources, Manning "will be forced to decide whether to retire" pending the results of a contractually mandated exam of his surgically repaired neck this March.
If the exam doesn't show an "increased risk of injury," Manning will continue on to the 2014 season as the Broncos' starting quarterback. But, according to Mortensen's sources, if such a risk does turn up, Manning will have a lot to think about.
Manning set the NFL's all-time record for passing yards and touchdowns this season and was the general of the league's most productive offense ever. He has also undergone four neck surgeries in his career, the latest of which came in 2011 and cost him the entire season.
File this story away until March. Right now, there's little reason for Manning and the Broncos to worry; they are on track for the Super Bowl. Everything else after the Super Bowl is out of sight, out of mind at the moment.