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A look at NFL handicapping with the PFW editor lobbying to become Las Vegas bureau chief.

About that Colts-Bills line...

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted Dec. 30, 2009 @ 11:32 a.m.
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Mike Wilkening

The Colts-Bills game is one of three widely off the board at Nevada sportsbooks as of Wednesday morning, and if that surprises you, put yourself into an oddsmaker's shoes for a moment. How do you set a line for this game? Consider all of these moving parts: 

— The Colts are going to rest starters. QB Peyton Manning figures to start, but he'll give way quickly to Curtis Painter. How long other starters, or whether they play at all, remains to be seen. Fast fact: the Colts are 1-6 ATS in season finales since divisional realignment in 2002.

— Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick missed Week 16 with an ankle injury. If he's out again, the Bills would have to turn to Brian Brohm, and the drop off from Fitzpatrick to Brohm is significant. 

— The final factor in play: the Colts angered a lot of people last week by pulling Manning and other offensive starters in the second half vs. the Jets. Their fanbase has not taken the decision well, and handicappers who backed Indy last week have to be besides themselves, too. There are a lot of folks who would want nothing to do with picking this game (me included) because in addition to suspecting that the Colts will again sit a lot of players on Sunday, we have no idea how Indy's players will react to the controversial decision to forego making a serious run at a 16-0 season.

Two other games don't have lines. Steelers-Dolphins is also off the board primarily because of questions about the status of Dolphins RB Ricky Williams (shoulder) and, perhaps to a lesser extent, questions on the status of SS Troy Polamalu (knee).  Also, Saints-Panthers is off the board, as the Saints have clinched the top seed in the NFC and could rest starters.

However, no line will intrigue me as much as the one set for Colts-Bills.

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