Why Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp will headline TNF in Week 16

Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

There are several examples of that special chemistry between an NFL quarterback and his wide receiver. But for the LA Rams, many have forgotten just how special that connection is between LA Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford and veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp. In Super Bowl LVI, it was All-Pro Cooper Kupp that emerged from that game as the MVP. But if not for the laser-guided passes from Stafford, it never would have happened.

The Rams offense was whittled down by injuries in the second half of that Super Bowl to Stafford throwing to Kupp, seldom-used tight end Brycen Hopkins, and wide receiver Van Jefferson. The Rams had planned to route much of their big-play offense through WR Odell Beckham Jr., and his two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown certainly appeared to be just the tip of the iceberg. But he fell to an ACL injury in the first half, leaving the Rams offense no other option than to focus on Cooper Kupp.

Despite everyone in SoFi Stadium knowing that Stafford would be throwing to Kupp, he ended the game with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams won that game by a score of 23-20.

Cooper Kupp can single-handedly take over a game

While he has been hampered by injuries throughout both the 2022 and 2023 NFL seasons, Cooper Kupp has been incredibly productive for the Rams offense over the past three games. In fact, he has caught 22 of 26 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns over that span of time. And he has appeared to be getting stronger and more dangerous with each passing week.

While the LA Rams have gotten Herculean efforts out of young players like RB Kyren Williams, rookie WR Puka Nacua, WR Tutu Atwell, and rookie tight end Davis Allen, the Rams know that when the game, and the future of the team, is on line line, nobody delivers quite like WR Cooper Kupp.

And with his most recent performances, it's no surprise why the Rams may plan to run their offense through him in Week 16.

Kupp is more than a possession receiver. He is the type of receiver who threatens secondaries on short, intermediate, and deep routes. And his 63.6 percent reception rate is less that rookie Puka Nacua's 64.4 percent reception rate, he is a veteran whose track record in huge games proves that no stage is too large to contain his elite playmaking abilities.

Of course, the Rams have an abundance of offensive weapons at their disposal for Thursday Night Football. But unless the New Orleans Saints dedicate two defensive backs to neutralize Kupp in this one, I expect that Stafford to Kupp to be the headliner in Friday's NFL news.

The Rams need this win. That, in itself, almost ensures that Cooper Kupp will have the first shot of playing the hero. LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has had amazing success in short weeks. He will go with Kupp in 2023 to continue that winning streak.