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Titans-Jaguars Week 18 winner wins the AFC South, regardless of what happens next week

Kevin O'Connell sang the praises of kicker Greg Joseph after his 61-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Vikings to a 27-24 win over the Giants in Week 16.

The Titans and Jaguars are in an unusual situation heading into Week 17: Both teams know that the game that really matters is Week 18.

The Week 18 Titans-Jaguars winner will win the AFC South, and that’s true regardless of whether either team wins, loses or ties in Week 17. There’s no scenario in which the winner of that Week 18 matchup doesn’t win the division.

That raises the question of whether both teams will rest their starters in Week 17, when the Titans face the Cowboys and the Jaguars face the Texans. It might be better for both teams to keep their best players healthy for the game with the division title on the line than to risk injuries to win a largely meaningless game in Week 17. It is still possible for either the Titans or the Jaguars to be a wild card team, but that’s a long shot. Most likely, the loser of the Week 18 game will miss the playoffs entirely.

What if the Week 18 Titans-Jaguars game ends in a tie? That’s when Week 17 could matter: If Week 18 were a tie, then the Titans would win the AFC South if they win Week 17 and the Jaguars lose Week 17. If either the Jaguars win Week 17 or the Titans lose Week 17, then the Jaguars would win the AFC South with a Week 18 tie.

But what we know for sure is that the winner of the AFC South will be decided in Week 18 in Jacksonville.