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Your XFINITY Connect session has timed out due to inactivity. Click here to go back close 10 Things That Will Make or Break the NFL in 2012

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1. Peyton Manning

As countless writers of all levels of credibility confidently pencil in the Denver Broncos as their pick to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVII, I can’t help but acknowledge the giant elephant in the room. Whether it’s a case of whistling by the graveyard or a genuine belief in Manning’s recovery, it seems everyone forgets the four-time MVP hasn’t played in a competitive football game in 18 months, hasn’t felt the pressure of a blindside sack in seemingly forever, and is working with an offensive line that is not nearly as skilled or as talented as the one that protected him in Indianapolis. The doctors say he’s fine enough to play, and he looked good enough in the preseason. But to assume he will be the same guy he was in 2010 before four neck surgeries? What if he’s not? What if he’s rusty? What if he’s gun shy because of those surgeries? The elephant in the room. - Peter Schrager (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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