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Three Bengals In SI's Most Influential 100

Cincinnati players Vontaze Burfict and Andy Dalton ranked in the top 45 while former Bengals coach Hue Jackson also cracked the top 50.

The Bengals had three people make Sports Illustrated's list of most influential figures for the 2015 NFL season, a list of 100 that was released Tuesday at The Monday Morning Quarterback.

The trio, all of whom are in the top 50, includes linebacker Vontaze Burfict, quarterback Andy Dalton, and former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, now head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Burfict was the highest at No. 26, and not for positive reasons, although the Bengals' defense greatly improved when the outside linebacker rejoined the team around midseason after recovering from microsfracture knee surgery.

"It’s a violent sport, but Burfict’s actions on the field befit the term 'sociopath,'" Sports Illustrated wrote. "The NFL, unmoved by any player safety risks that don’t draw the public’s ire, was finally forced to act after Burfict’s filthy hit on Antonio Brown late in an AFC wild card game. Burfict’s actions helped sink the seasons of two teams: The Bengals, who were almost certainly going to win before Burfict went head-hunting, and the Steelers, who lost Brown for the Divisional playoff game in Denver and had a limited Ben Roethlisberger due to a shoulder injury suffered on a Burfict sack."

Dalton was having the best season of his career before breaking the thumb on his right throwing hand in the final quarter of the schedule. He still led the AFC in passer rating. He placed No. 43.

Fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Broncos and the Panthers' Cam Newton were 1-2 on the list. Manning, the old warrior, helped guide Denver to a win in Super Bowl 50 after a rollercoaster season. The dynamic and multi-threat Newton quarterbacked the Panthers to the season's longest unbeaten start and their second Super Bowl appearance.

"This was the year Dalton was going to get that playoff win," Sports Illustrated wrote. "He was playing his best football, and the Bengals had the best roster in football surrounding him. Instead, one bad decision that resulted in an interception, and a fluke injury on the ensuing tackle, ended his season."

Jackson, who orchestrated the Bengals' unique offense -- with its odd formations and schemes -- with great success, despite key injuries the past two seasons, was ranked No. 48.

"Jackson turned Andy Dalton from a game manager to a borderline MVP candidate," wrote Sports Illustrated. "Heck, he nearly won a playoff game with AJ McCarron. And after the season, Jackson was among the hottest head-coaching candidates, with the Browns winning his services."

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