This is blasphemy. Just hear me out though.
Lets assume the worst. Just for a second, okay?
Peyton is out for the year. We have a terrible season... However, we bond as a team. We use this bad season to build. We work on improving defense and improving the run. We learn NOT to depend on the greatest player in history to win games, but learn to depend on each other. Then, at the end of the season, we get an early pick. We get a good QB. Maybe, uhm, Andrew Luck?
This young Quarterback plays under Manning, and learns under Manning, for the remainder of his career, which I hope is 3-4 more years. Then, he takes over having learned from teh greatest ever.
I know this is a lot to say and assume. And probably a really stupid post. But whatever. I just wanted to throw this out there.