NFL Locals: Cooper Kupp, red-hot Rams ready for playoff game at Lions

Jan. 7—Cooper Kupp enjoyed some calm before the Los Angeles Rams storm into the playoffs.

Kupp (Eastern Washington) was one of five Rams to sit out of Sunday's 21-20 road win over the San Francisco 49ers.

L.A. and San Francisco were both locked into the playoffs, and the Rams (10-7) secured the No. 6 seed with the win.

The Rams will travel to Detroit to face the third-seeded Lions (12-5) on Sunday at 5 p.m. It will be a homecoming for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who hasn't returned to Detroit since being traded to L.A. in 2021.

Stafford was drafted No. 1 overall by the Lions and was their starter for 12 seasons. He snapped a 12-year playoff drought in Detroit in 2011 and led the team to three playoff appearances — all wild-card losses.

Detroit has not won a playoff game since 1991.

Kupp had a historic postseason in 2021 — the last time the Rams made the playoffs. He piled up 33 receptions for 478 yards and six touchdowns in four games and was named MVP of Super Bowl LVI after he secured the go-ahead touchdown during a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Kupp has battled injury this season and took a back seat to rookie receiver Puka Nacua, who broke rookie records for receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,486). Kupp is second on the team with 59 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns.

The Rams won seven of their last eight games to close the season, their only loss in overtime against the AFC's top-seeded Baltimore Ravens.

Indianapolis Colts' Gardner Minshew (WSU) and Samson Ebukam (EWU) could have celebrated a division title.

Minshew threw an errant pass on a fourth-down conversion ending the Colts hopes of a go-ahead score during the fourth quarter of a 23-19 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday.

The Texans, who eliminated the Colts from the playoffs, were crowned AFC South champions on Sunday, after the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans.

Minshew will enter free agency proven as a capable backup and may compete for a starting job.

Minshew completed 62% of his passes for 3,305 yards 15 touchdown and nine interceptions this season.

Ebukam has two years left on his deal, which has given the Colts a nice return. Ebukam had a career season with 57 tackles, 91/2 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Kansas City Chiefs corner Jaylen Watson (WSU) had his best game of the season with eight tackles and two passes defensed in a 13-12 win over the host Los Angeles Chargers.

Watson took on a larger role with the Chiefs (11-6) locked into the AFC's No. 3 seed.

Kansas City will host the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round. The Chiefs beat the Dolphins in Germany 21-14 earlier this season.

Miami (11-6) dropped to the No. 6 seed with a loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills Sunday night, missing a chance at the AFC East title.

Dolphins receiver River Cracraft (WSU) had one catch for 18 yards, his first reception since Dec. 3.

Kaden Elliss (Idaho) left with a knee injury and the Atlanta Falcons were blown out of playoff contention.

Elliss exited Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints and the Falcons defense crumbled in the second half, losing 48-17 at the Superdome in New Orleans.

The two teams were tied 17-17 at halftime.

Elliss had three tackles in the game and ended the season with 121, a career-high.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu (WSU) had six tackles in a 9-0 loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Luvu, a free agent, had 119 tackles and 51/2 sacks this season.

Arizona Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson (WSU) had two tackles and a pass defended in a 21-20 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks.

Thompson had a three-year low in tackles (76), but he had a career-high four interceptions and five tackles for loss.