Comparison of American and Canadian football: The NFL VS CFL 

A football fan in North America gets two choices to enjoy the sport, NFL and CFL. Both appear to be similar, but they have several differences that we will discuss below. There is always a debate over which league is better. Every person has their reason to like one over another, but there isn’t any outright answer. We will cover some notable differences to highlight the key features of both leagues.   

The history of both Canadian and American leagues goes way back to when British soldiers played rugby. It was a niche sport until McGill University students played against Harvard. Afterward, people started to take an interest, and it became a competing sport. Any sport needs an audience to make it popular, and when there are two opposite sides to support, it becomes competitive. The same thing is happening with NFL and CFL; people have started comparing both. The comparison, brands, audience, pay rate, betting odds, media coverage; all began to differentiate both leagues; even bettors take sides while wagering and make sure they bet on the best odds.  NFL odds offer better payout and good returns because of the magnitude of the league. 

A brief history 

NFL is a professional football league that stands for National Football League, and it was founded in 1920. Initially, it had five teams from Ohio, four from Illinois, two from Indiana, and two from New York. NFL used to have competition with American Football League (AFL), but in 1970, both merged, forming a 26 teams’ league. The expansion allowed 32 teams to compete in the championship along with a 12 team playoffs and a Super Bowl match. 

Comparatively, CFL is relatively new. It was founded in 1956 and is divided into two divisions, West Division and East Division. There are nine teams in the league, so you would probably notice a big difference in the size. 

Top differences between NFL and CFL 

Apart from the size of the teams, there are different playing rules for both leagues. We highlight the key differences below. 

  • The NFL has more money to offer. 
  • The CFL field is larger than the NFL one. 
  • The NFL allows 11 players on each side, while the CFL allows 12. 
  • The NFL has a rule of four downs per possession as opposed to CFL, which has three downs. 
  • Play clocks and timeouts are different too. 
  • The CFL has an additional scoring method known as a single point. 
  • There are different rules for overtime format. 
  • The in-season schedule and length are different in both leagues. 
  • The position of the field goal post is different as well. 
  • The CFL prohibits the fair catch rule. 

Let’s discuss some differences briefly. 

Player salaries 

It is the significant difference in both leagues, which also encourages players to quit CFL and move to NFL. The average annual salary of an NFL player is around $2-3 million, whereas, in CFL, it is $200,000. The difference is huge; that is why CFL players supplement their income with temporary jobs. 

Size of the field 

The CFL playing field is larger than that of the NFL. The overall size of the NFL field is 120 yards, and the CFL field is 150 yards with a width of 65 yards. 

Number of players 

In the NFL, there are 22 players, 11 offensives and 11 defensives, with one tight end position and two safety positions. On the other hand, CFL has 24 players, 12 offensives and 12 defensives, with no tight end position, two slotbacks, two halfbacks, and one safety position. 

Number of downs 

In order to make the game exciting, CFL only has three downs to score a touchdown or kick a field goal, while in NFL, there are four downs required. 

Timeout rules 

In the NFL, each team gets three timeouts per half, but in CFL, each team gets two timeouts per game. 

Location of the field goal post 

In the NFL, the field goal post is at the back of the end zone, while in CFL, it is at the front. 

Overtime rule 

Overtime is played after a game is tied. In the NFL, a coin toss is used and the team winning the toss decides which team to take the ball. It is sudden death; the first team to score wins the game. In CFL, a coin toss takes place for the possession, but there is no kick-off. The ball is placed on the opposition 35 yards line, and the team tries to score; if the defense scores the point, the game is over. 

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