W2W4: St. Louis Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys kick off Week 3 on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET on regional Fox coverage.

Here are three things to watch for from the Rams' end:

1. Stopping the run: This one is obvious but it has to go right here at the top because it's the most important. In case you missed the numbers earlier this week, here's a rundown on why this is the most imperative piece to handle if the Rams want a win this week.

Through two games, St. Louis is 30th in the league stopping the run, giving up 171 yards per game. The Rams did a solid job against the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson but were burned on the perimeter by receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Last week, little known backup Bobby Rainey of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did in the Rams as they again struggled with missed tackles and poor run fits.

The challenge grows this week with Dallas and DeMarco Murray coming to town. Murray leads the league in rushing through two games and is working behind a better offensive line than the Rams have seen this season (and perhaps one of the best in the league). That's a lethal combination for a defense that has struggled to contain Murray in the past. Even if the Rams are a much different team than they were in 2011 when Murray blitzed them for 253 yards, this is basically the same group that gave up 175 to him last year.

The Cowboys' passing game hasn't been what they'd hoped so far but if Murray and the run game get going again, it could be a long, long day for the Rams defense.

2. Quarterback quagmire: The Rams again are playing the day-to day card with veteran quarterback Shaun Hill, who is recovering from a thigh injury. Hill didn't play last week and Austin Davis more than capably replaced him with an impressive first start. That has left many fans clamoring for Davis to take the job permanently, but Jeff Fisher has been steadfast in saying Hill will be the starter when he's healthy.

The question then becomes whether Hill is healthy. At this point, it doesn't appear that he is after practicing only on a limited basis all week. He's listed as questionable on the injury report. The Rams could test him again in pregame before making a decision but with a bye week coming after the Cowboys game, it's fair to wonder if the Rams should push Hill knowing he could be full strength after the bye. The safe bet is that Davis will get a second consecutive start even if it doesn't become official until just before game time.

Whether it's Davis or Hill, someone is going to have to offer more than the Rams got from Sam Bradford in last year's blowout loss in Big D.

3. Reducing penalties: After starting last week's game against Tampa Bay with three penalties on the first series, it looked like the Rams were in for another long day of laundry. But the Rams managed to settle in a bit as the game went on and drew only five accepted penalties. On paper, that's obvious improvement but a deeper look revealed more of the same. The Rams had four penalties either declined or offset but even more disturbing was the nature of the five that were accepted. The Rams had 65 penalty yards on those five accepted flags, an average of 13 yards per infraction. So while the number of penalties dropped, the nature of them got worse.

To their credit, the Rams drastically reduced the number of fouls on the offense against Tampa Bay but the defense picked up most of the slack. Against Dallas, which boasts a more formidable offense at all levels than the Bucs, the Rams can't afford similar mistakes.