We welcomed the smaller slate of games from which we would build our fantasy lineups, last week, but did so because of the wealth of viable options found across the eight teams. The quantity of squads in-play shrinking from eight to four could have produced just as much excitement for the Conference Championships but, as the pieces fell into place, the picture reveals a pair of games that will essentially be decided by the teams’ defenses.

Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Conference Champsionship NFL picks against the spread and our expectations for a given game, we project the actions necessary to make these picks come to fruition. We aim to pinpoint players integral to our predicted game flow for each game of the week.

Luke May is our resident NFL DFS expert, and Mario Mergola operates Sporfolio as our expert for NFL Picks Against the Spread.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots

Luke’s DFS Take: If you had told me that the Jaguars were going to score 45 points last week, I probably would have laughed in your face. But that was the reality that took place as the Jaguars stunned the Steelers. While that type of offensive explosion is great, there are two big problems with that game for the Jaguars. The first is that their elite defense was dismantled by the Steelers to the tune of 42 points. I don’t think this defense will allow that again, but they were clearly exposed last week, and Bill Belichick is smart enough to take notes on that game and find ways to expose them once again. The other problem for the Jaguars is that there is little-to-no chance that they score another 45 points this week – and they likely don’t come anywhere near that. Belichick and the Patriots are going to do everything they can to eliminate Leonard Fournette and force Blake Bortles to beat them. Fournette should see a ton of volume like usual, which makes him appealing, but with him being keyed on heavily, don’t expect a repeat of last week’s domination. Bortles is going to be forced to produce more, but it is hard to really think he can lead his team past the Patriots. The Patriots will likely not put up as many points as the Steelers did last week, but there is a clear plan that they are likely to utilize this week. Their receivers are in a tough position, so expect the Patriots to utilize their biggest strengths – which is also their best matchup – and heavily involve Rob Gronkowski and their running backs. Gronkowski is an absolute must this weekend based on the limited elite skill players available, but the running back position gets a bit trickier. Dion Lewis seems like the favorite option, but he is he highest-priced skill position player of the week, and has to deal with James White and Rex Burkhead, who is expected to return this week, stealing touches. With the amount that I’d expect Tom Brady to be utilizing these four players, I don’t mind rostering any of the three running backs as there is a decent chance that all three guys find success. I wouldn’t expect this game to be high-scoring by any means, so taking a defense is not out of the question – with the Patriots actually being the preferred choice – but I’m expecting the other game to be even lower scoring, so I will likely avoid these two defenses in favor of those in the NFC matchup.

Mario’s DFS Take: The Jacksonville Jaguars are quite the conundrum. On one hand, the team performs exactly as it should. Its defense is outstanding and rarely disappoints, and its offense runs almost entirely through its rushing attack. But, it is also wildly inconsistent. Including the playoffs, the Jaguars have allowed at least 37 points three times, but seven points or fewer seven times. It has also scored at least 44 points three times, but fewer than 20 points five times. What we can extract from this

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