Top 10 CFL Teams of the Decade

Top 10 CFL
VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 30: Game MVP Bo Levi Mitchell #19 of the Calgary Stampeders hoists the Grey Cup after defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 102nd Grey Cup Championship Game at BC Place November 30, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Calgary won 20-16. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Over the past decade, one CFL dynasty came to an end right before another took off. To no surprise, both had the key ingredient in a star quarterback; first Anthony Calvillo for Montreal and now Bo Levi Mitchell in Calgary.

Both pivots enjoyed at least one CFL championship in the last 10 years, and both are on the top 10 CFL teams of the 2010s. Luckily for Calgary, you do not have to win a Grey Cup to make this list.

Top 10 CFL Teams of the 2010s

10. 2010 Calgary Stampeders

Record: 13-5 (626 points for, 459 points against)
Result: West Final loss

One key statistic has this team squeaking onto this list: they were the only team to score 600 points during a season this decade. In fact, no team came within five touchdowns of this Henry Burris-led club, who won M.O.P. and was one of seven Stampeders’ All-Stars in 2010. It’s a total head-scratcher how the Stamps scored just 16 points in a playoff loss, but when a team drops 50 three times in a year, they deserve a spot for the offence alone.

9. 2010 Montreal Alouettes

Record: 12-6 (521 points for, 475 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

The actual winners of the 2010 campaign weren’t the most dominant team, but were on the ball when it mattered. The Alouettes had just three CFL All-Stars on their roster: Scott Flory, John Bowman, and Chip Cox. Nonetheless, Anthony Calvillo’s squad found a way to erase a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in the Grey Cup. The hands-down best play of the decade came from this team too on Canada Day in Regina.

8. 2012 Toronto Argonauts

Record: 9-9 (445 points for, 491 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

Well, a team that gets outscored in the regular season likely shouldn’t touch this list, but it’s too difficult to overlook the Argos’ 2012 championship. M.O.P. Chad Owens nearly produced 4,000 all-purpose yards that year, breaking Pinball Clemons’ CFL record. Toronto then put on a show in front of the home fans in the 100th Grey Cup, defeating the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 behind Chad Kackert’s 195 yards on offence.

7. 2019 Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Record: 15-3 (451 points for, 344 points against)
Result: Grey Cup loss

You don’t have to win to get in, but you do in order to be near the top. 2019’s Tiger-Cats team was stacked, even with a backup quarterback in Dane Evans. Brandon Banks earned his first M.O.P. after racking up 1,550 yards and 16 total touchdowns, while stars like Simoni Lawrence, Chris Van Zeyl, and Dylan Wynn were a part of Hamilton’s nine CFL All-Stars. A 19-point blowout loss in the Grey Cup put a major damper on a surreal year.

6. 2013 Saskatchewan Roughriders 

Record: 11-7 (519 points for, 398 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

The Riders kept the “home team champion” streak going while properly sending off Geroy Simon’s Hall of Fame career. Darian Durant’s squad won three-straight playoff games, ending in a dominating 45-23 Grey Cup win over the Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium. Kory Sheets left the CFL after a 1,598-yard season, while Chris Getzlaf, Weston Dressler, and Taj Smith combined for over 3,000 yards and 25 receiving touchdowns.

5. 2019 Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Record: 11-7 (508 points for, 409 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

Beginning the season as potential Grey Cup favourites, the Bombers unwillingly flipped the script in the latter two months of the season. Zach Collaros became an emergency-type quarterback and was at the forefront of Winnipeg’s dominant road playoff run. M.O.D.P. Willie Jefferson was the star on a defence that allowed 39 points and generated 14 takeaways in three road playoff games, including eight in a 19-point Grey Cup win.

4. 2016 Calgary Stampeders

Record: 15-2-1 (586 points for, 369 points against)
Result: Grey Cup loss

If not for resting their starters in their regular-season finale, the Stamps likely would’ve earned the league’s best CFL record at 16-2 while on a 15-game win streak. Bo Levi Mitchell won his first M.O.P. and was one of the nine Calgary players named CFL All-Stars, including Charleston Hughes, Micah Johnson, and Tommie Campbell. The only knock on this team is their playoff result — Mitchell’s squad came up short in a thrilling Grey Cup.

3. 2015 Edmonton Eskimos

Record: 14-4 (466 points for, 341 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

Mike Reilly won his first and only Grey Cup a week after getting over the hump that was Calgary in a 45-31 West Final win. Adarius Bowman’s and Derel Walker’s 1,000-yard seasons made them CFL All-Stars, but this team’s bread and butter was a stout Chris Jones defence. Odell Willis, Willie Jefferson, Deon Lacey, J.C. Sherritt, Dexter McCoil, and Patrick Watkins were key contributors of the unit that held teams to under 19 points per game.

2. 2018 Calgary Stampeders

Record: 13-5 (522 points for, 363 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

Despite having just three league All-Stars, for my money, this championship roster was the most talented of the decade, especially on defence. Alex Singleton, James Vaughters, and Jameer Thurman all went to the NFL the following season, while Ja’Gared Davis, Micah Johnson, Patrick Levels, and Tunde Adeleke departed for big paydays in free agency. Bo Levi Mitchell earned his second M.O.P. award before handily winning his second Grey Cup.

1. 2014 Calgary Stampeders

Record: 15-3 (511 points for, 347 points against)
Result: Grey Cup win

Bo Levi Mitchell finished his first year as a starter by raising the Grey Cup alongside Jon Cornish, who rushed for 1,082 in just nine games, a pace that would’ve beat Mike Pringle’s single-season rushing record by 99 yards. Shawn Lemon and Charleston Hughes combined for 21 sacks, while defensive backs Jamar Wall, Keon Raymond, Fred Bennett, Brandon Smith, and Josh Bell put together 17 interceptions. A 17-3 season with a ‘ship is special.

Just Missed the Cut

The 2011 B.C. Lions were next, scoring over 500 points with Travis Lulay and claiming a Grey Cup on home soil. The 2011 Blue Bombers, a.k.a. Swaggerville had one of the better defences of the decade but fell just short of being a top 10 CFL team of the 2010s.

A pair of 14-4 Stampeders teams that exited in the 2013 and 2015 West Finals each had an argument for making this list, but again — winning in November matters.

Then there are the 2016 and 2017 champs — the 8-9-1 Ottawa Redblacks and the 9-9 Toronto Argonauts who for obvious reasons did not rank on this list but deserve kudos for catching fire at the right time with some aging quarterbacks.

Think another CFL team from this past decade is deserving of a top 10 ranking? If so, comment below or tweet me at @nik_kowalski.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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