Canadian Vs. American Football: Knowing the Difference

Football – it brings us together, and it’s incredibly enjoyable to watch! Whether you’re just watching for fun with your friends or you’re betting on a site like Fanduel to bring in some extra cash, football is a staple in many people’s lives.

Of course, there are many different kinds of football out there, so you may be wondering what the difference is between different football games. In specific, what’s the difference between American and Canadian football? Well, we’re here to answer that question today so you can share your fun facts with your family and friends before the next game! 


Take a quick head count the next time that you watch a game of football. How many players do you see on each side? You will likely notice that there are 11 players on the pitch in an NFL match. In Canadian football, however, you will count 12 players instead. This can have a big impact on the play and the number of positions on the field.  It can also mean that betting on Canadian football can be a little more complicated though thanks to the extra roles in play.

In total, you will see 22 players on the pitch in the NFL. This means that each team has 11 players out on the field at any one time. In comparison, there are 24 players in the CFL with 12 players on either side. 

Field Size

One of the first things that you will likely notice when you watch a Canadian and American football game side by side is the difference in field size. In particular, you may notice that Canadian Football is being played on significantly larger frields. For instance, the Vikings play on a 100 year long field. Canadian football pitches are often around 110 x 65 yards. The difference is noticeable between the two.

Amount of Downs

The games also differ in terms of the number of downs that are permitted per game. In Canadian football, you can only have three downs. This is quite the contrast to the four downs that are permitted in the NFL. It can be quite the game changer.

Fair Catch Rule

The fair catch rule actually only exists in the NFL. What is this? Well, the fair catch rule means that a player on the opposite team can catch the ball so long as the correct signal is made. You won’t see any rule like this in Canadian football. Canadian players on the punting side are required to remain five yards away from the ball too. In Canadian football, if a kicking team won’t allow a five yard cushion, a 10 yard penalty will be given to the punt return team. This is certainly not the case with the NFL.

The Pay

Yep, if you want to get paid well for playing football, you had better move to the United States! The NFL pays a lot more money to its players than the CFL does. It’s a bummer for the Canadian players, to say the least! 

Let’s make a quick comparison. Back in 2019, the highest paid NFL player had an annual salary of $35 million – that was Russell Wilson. In comparison, the highest CFL salary goes to Jamaal Westerman, who gets a mere $109,000 a year. That is a tremendous difference. It is for this reason that a lot of Canadian players will sometimes try to play for the NFL instead.


So those are just a few of the key differences between Canadian and American Football! Hopefully these fun facts will be enough to keep your family and friends satisfied as you wait for the next game to begin! 

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