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Five Differences Between the NFL and the CFL

The National Football League is the United States’ biggest and most popular sports organization. As the name suggests, they are responsible for handling anything relating to American football, and a couple of Canadian teams are within its bounds.

That fact has caused a lot of people to need clarification about Canadian football. Many believe that the NFL football teams are all Canada has to offer. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Canadian Football League is Canada’s governing body of football.

But what are the differences between Canadian football and American football? What separates the CFL from the NFL? And which one is more popular worldwide? In this article, we attempt to discover the answers.


The biggest difference between the CFL and the NFL is the level of popularity that the organizations enjoy. We don’t have to tell you that football is America’s favorite pastime. Children begin to practice it from an early age. Every American Thanksgiving, the family gathers around the television and watches the Thanksgiving game. And, of course, then there is the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the USA and the world. Millions of people flock to streaming sites or TV to watch the Super Bowl. Not just the game but the whole spectacle of it, commercials and all. Then, there are the Super Bowl betting sites, which have become ever more popular recently.

Comparatively, Canadian football could be more appealing to the general public. Canadians may love it, but the sport has yet to attain international recognition to the point where some people don’t even realize that there is a difference between the CFL and the NFL. That is why we are here, to clear up that misconception.

Field Size

The field’s size and dimensions are major differences between Canadian and American football. The NFL boasts a pretty impressive rectangular field 100 yards long and 150 feet wide. Each of the end zones are 10 yards deep. When most people see an NFL field, it is instantly recognizable.

The CFL field is similar in appearance, so one might confuse it for an NFL field if one is unaware of the right specs. The Canadian football field is also rectangular but a bit longer and wider than the NFL field, standing at 150 yards long, 65 yards wide, and end zones that are 20 yards deep.

Number of Players & Teams

It is only natural that the bigger field be built to support more players. Therefore, it might be surprising to many to learn that the CFL teams feature 12 players on each team. However, while more players are on each team, the Canadian Football League is responsible for far fewer teams. Currently, there are only 9 that participate in the CFL.

On the other hand, each NFL team has 11 players. But, unlike the CFL, the NFL manages 32 teams. This means the NFL is responsible for many more players than the Canadian Football League.

Some Extra Scoring Rules

The Canadian Football League has some extra scoring rules, for which there is no equivalent in the National Football League. The most popular example is the rouge. According to the rule, the kick-off team gets an extra point (called a rouge) if their kick lands in the end zone without any of the other players contributing. The NFL has no rouge equivalent, so that is a uniquely Canadian addition to the game.


Finally, we are looking at football’s most interesting and exciting part: scoring. The CFL and the NFL have different rules regarding scoring, which encourages the best players to formulate different strategies. Let us look at the different scoring rules in the two sports.

A team gets six points in the Canadian Football League when scoring a touchdown. Furthermore, teams can score a one-point convert by kicking the ball. They can also attempt a two-point convert by running or passing or a three-pointer by kicking the ball through the end zone.

In the NFL, a touchdown is also worth six points. However, there are different ways to score extra points, including kicking, passing, running, or attempting a two-point conversion. Overall, the scoring rules in the CFL and NFL are quite similar, though there are a few subtle differences that make them unique.


What is the CFL?

The CFL is the Canadian Football League, the governing body behind Canadian football.

What is the NFL?

The NFL is the National Football League, the governing body behind American football in the USA.

How many teams does the CFL govern?

The Canadian Football League governs 9 teams, which is quite a few, especially compared to the NFL’s 32.

Do Canadian teams compete in the NFL?

No Canadian teams are competing in the NFL right now. However, the NFL has been playing games in Toronto since the 1950s.

Is the NFL more popular than the CFL?

Yes, the NFL enjoys both national and international fame. On the other hand, the CFL is less popular nationally and has little-to-no international success.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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