Three Differences Between The NFL And CFL

The NFL and CFL both have distinguished roots in the history of sport in their respective countries. Both have a great deal of similarities, which has seen an influx of players ply their trades on either side of the border between the United States and Canada.

However, there are also a number of differences between the two sports, which occasionally make life difficult for players in the transition. We’ll now look at the top differences between NFL and the CFL, which can be stark despite sharing similar traits.


The average salary of an NFL player for the 2019 season is roughly $2.7m USD, while the average wage of a CFL player ranked in at $54,000 CAD. It’s a significant difference and due to the popularity of the game in the States compared to Canada. Huge television and sponsorship deals allow owners to splash the cash on their players.

No position highlights the difference more than the quarterback spot. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson averages $35m USD per season – he is the highest-paid player in the league. Compare his wage with that of the highest-paid CFL quarterback B.C Lions’ Mike Reilly, who earns an average of $725,000 CAD per season. It’s certainly more profitable to be playing in the NFL.

Size of the Field

The NFL field is 100 yards from north to south and 53 yards across. Obviously, the midfield line is at the 50-yard marker, but the CFL differs in their approach. The total length of their field from top to bottom is 110 yards and is 65 yards wide, leaving the midfield marker at the 55-yard line. The endzones are different as well as the CFL goes 20 yards deep for their scoring areas for touchdowns, compared to the 10 yards seen in the NFL.

Therefore, there is less margin for error for NFL quarterbacks than their CFL counterparts. The yardage is perhaps one of the biggest differences between the two leagues, although the principles are the same. Making judgements using stats becomes more complicated when comparing the NFL and CFL; however, online resources such as statistics and prediction site Betzcenter, who only cover the NFL for now, provide a wealth of statistics and information that not only make it easier to put forward informed bets on the NFL, but also act as a point of comparison for those making similar decisions within the CFL.

Number of Players and Downs

The NFL allows 11 players to take the field from each side per down. The CFL on the other hand affords their teams to put an extra player on the field. Therefore, there are 24 players involved in the action on any down in a CFL game and 22 across the border in the States. Seven players must be on the line of scrimmage, which usually in the NFL means all five offensive linemen along with a tight end and wide receiver, depending on the formation deployed. The CFL usually favors two running backs, making the tight end position less common north of the border.

The two also differ on the amount of downs in the game. The NFL has four downs for a possession, with teams often punting on fourth to kick the ball away to gain field position or in desperate times risking losing possession to keep their offensive hopes alive. The CFL boasts only three downs, but the rules operate in such a way where the defense has to play one yard off the line of scrimmage, offering an advantage to the offense to get half a yard on the defense.

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