10/07/2010 2:47PM

Never a dull moment with Minnesota Vikings


LAS VEGAS – I’m trying to come up with a name for this soap opera that is the Minnesota Vikings.

As the Horned Helmet Turns.

General Viking Ship. The Old and The Restless (or are they resting-home bound?).

Zygi’s Hope.

Nothing quite fits, but this team hasn’t been this much fun to follow since the “Love Boat” scandal of 2005. Here are the twists and turns.

Coming off a 12-4 season in which they were one play from going to the Super Bowl, the Vikings returned all their stars and were among the future-book favorites around 8-1. On Aug. 3, rumors spread that quarterback Brett Favre text-messaged his teammates and management that he was retiring. The Vikings’ odds were taken off most of the betting boards in Vegas, although the Hilton raised them to 20-1.

After Favre cleared the air and announced he was playing after all, they were dropped to back to 12-1. Then they lost their first two games this season and were raised back up to 20-1. After beating the Lions in Week 3, they had their bye last week but made news again by trading with the Patriots for Randy Moss, the star wide receiver who played in Minnesota from 1998 to 2004.

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Lucky’s sports books sent out its adjusted futures Wednesday with the Vikings at 13-1, the same odds as the Patriots.

You couldn’t write this script and sell it to a soap opera.The Steelers – another candidate for a reality show, with Ben Roethlisberger returning from his four-game suspension stemming from an alleged sexual assault – are co-favorites to win the title along with the Ravens and Packers at 8-1. Following them are the Colts, Saints, Cowboys, Falcons, and Jets at 12-1. The Chargers, Vikings, and Patriots are 13-1.

Back to the betting board

I guess I have to be content with my 2-1 record last week, since I said I would be if I posted that record. I won with the Panthers plus the points vs. the Saints and the Jaguars in an outright upset of the Colts, but lost with the Cardinals vs. the Chargers. I was 7-3 entering the week but now stand at 9-4 (69.2 percent). Maybe I should have said I would only be content going 3-0? We’ll see how this week’s plays fare.

Titans +6 1/2 vs. Cowboys

The Cowboys also started 0-2 and finally got a win over the Texans in Week 3 before getting a bye week. They would have been better served if they had continued to play, but the schedule-maker did them no favors. The Cowboys’ offense still hasn’t sorted out its problems with pass protection and penalties, which plagued the team in the preseason and early in the regular season. The Titans’ defense should be able to contain the Cowboys’ offense. I know what people are saying: “But the Titans just gave up 26 points in a loss to the Broncos.” All I can say is that the Titans were favored by 6 1/2 points in that game, and they usually don’t perform well as favorites − they lost to the Steelers three weeks ago as the chalk. That’s the time to fade the Titans. However, they almost always step up with solid performances when they’re underdogs. In fact, Vince Young is 15-4 against the spread as a starter in the NFL when the Titans get three or more points, and they’re 6-1 when coming off a loss, according to the database of handicapper Marc Lawrence of playbook.com. I have much more confidence in Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher than I have in Wade Phillips. I’d prefer to get the +7 that was available earlier, but every point is added insurance. I’m looking for the Titans to pull the outright upset at around +250 (odds of 5-2).

PLAY: Titans for 1 unit.

Buccaneers +6 1/2 vs. Bengals

This is another game that has been available at +7 and higher in advance wagering, but I’m on the underdog despite the depressed lines. The Buccaneers started the season 2-0 before getting rolled by the Steelers in Week 3, but I still like the way they’ve been playing. Josh Freeman has impressed with his poise at quarterback and should have at least as much success as the Browns did last week in a 23-20 win over the Bengals. Cincinnati continue to be a team that is hyped but rarely lives up to expectations. Yet here they are favored by nearly a full touchdown. I’ll take the younger, hungrier team to keep it close and also have a shot for the upset.

PLAY: Buccaneers for 1 unit.

Vikings +4 vs. Jets

I posted this play on my ViewFromVegas.com website Monday, even before the Moss rumors started circulating. I believe they are poised to make a run back into contention in the NFC North, especially after division leader Chicago showed its flaws last Sunday night in a 17-3 loss to the Giants. The Jets have bounced back from their season-opening loss to the Ravens, but I believe the Vikings match up well with them here. Moss will be facing the Jets for the second time in three weeks after burning Darrelle Revis in Week 2, but the difference will be the Vikings’ defense shutting down the Jets’ running game and getting to quarterback Mark Sanchez.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 9-4 for a profit of 4.6 units .