Dallas Cowboys: Week 17 player rankings

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys are getting plenty of strong performances from their best players, but they’re struggling on defense because too many role players are getting extensive playing time.

To beat Washington and earn a playoff berth, the Cowboys' best players must perform at an even higher level to compensate for the team’s flaws. The way to beat Washington is for the Cowboys to dominate the game offensively because that’s their best unit.

Each week, during the season, I rank my top 10 players on the roster based on their performances.

1. Anthony Spencer: Spencer turned in yet another strong performance with seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a couple of pressures, but he had two costly penalties that led directly to points.

Last Week: 1

2. Tony Romo: In the last eight games, Romo has 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. He passed for 416 yards and four touchdowns against New Orleans. He’s 3-5 when he throws 40+ passes this season.

Last Week: 2

3. Dez Bryant: Bryant has been sensational over the last seven games with 10 touchdown receptions and 13 grabs of 20+ yards. He had a career nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.

Last Week: 3

4. DeMarcus Ware: He’s essentially been playing with one arm for a while and it’s starting to affect his production, though he still commands quite a bit of attention. Ware has two sacks in the last seven games.

Last Week: 4

5. Jason Witten: The veteran set an NFL season record with 103 receptions after catching six for 60 against New Orleans..

Last Week: 5

6. Brandon Carr: After watching him make game-changing plays against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in consecutive games, New Orleans left him alone for the most part.

Last Week: 7

7. DeMarco Murray: Murray has key fumbles each of the last two games, which is out of character. That needs to stop. With just 15 touches, he still totaled 91 yards.

Last Week: 5

8. Jason Hatcher: He played a season-high 72 snaps -- 11 more than any other game -- and was the only defensive lineman putting consistent pressure on Drew Brees.

Last Week: 8

9. Dan Bailey: He nailed his only attempt, a 47-yarder, and has made 28 of 30 field goal attempts.

Last Week: 9

10. Gerald Sensabaugh: He delivered a key big hit in the third quarter, but his missed tackle on Darren Sproles 44-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter was a huge play.

Last Week: 10