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Top 5 Differences Between the NFL and the CFL

As football fans around the world enjoy watching their favorite sport, they may notice the stark differences between the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL). These two leagues, while sharing a common love for the game, have various distinctions that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the top 5 differences between the NFL and the CFL.

Field Size and Dimensions

One of the most apparent differences between the NFL and the CFL is the field size. A CFL field measures 110 by 65 yards, with a 20-yard deep end zone. In contrast, the NFL field is smaller, measuring 100 by 53 1/3 yards, with a 10-yard deep end zone. The larger field in the CFL leads to a more open and dynamic style of play, where big plays and long passes are more common.

Rules and Regulations

Both the NFL and the CFL have different rules regarding play clock, timeouts, and punt returns. In the CFL, each team is allowed two timeouts per game, while NFL teams have three timeouts per half. This disparity means CFL teams need to be more strategic with their timeout usage, as they have fewer opportunities to stop the clock.

According to FanDuel Massachusetts, another difference lies in the punt return rules. The CFL does not have a fair catch rule like the NFL. Instead, the punting team must give the returner a cushion of five yards to ensure their safety. This rule creates more opportunities for exciting punt returns and adds another layer of strategy to special team play.

Number of Players and Downs

Another notable distinction between the two leagues is the number of players allowed on the field and the number of downs per possession. In the CFL, teams have 12 players on the field, while the NFL allows 11 players for each team. This additional player in the CFL results in more intricate offensive and defensive formations.

Moreover, CFL teams have three downs to gain 10 yards, while NFL teams have four downs to achieve the same objective. This difference in downs has a significant impact on the offensive strategies employed in each league. With fewer downs, CFL teams are more inclined to attempt longer passes and take risks, as the pressure to advance the ball is higher.

Scoring Opportunities

The CFL offers an additional method of scoring called a single point or “rouge.” A rouge occurs when the kicking team fails to score on a field goal or punt, and the ball goes through the end zone without being touched, or if the receiving team does not get the ball out of their end zone. This unique scoring opportunity adds an exciting element to CFL games, as teams can strategize around this additional point.

Field Goal Post Placement

The placement of the field goal posts is another key difference between the NFL and the CFL. In the CFL, the goalposts are located at the front of the end zone, while in the NFL, they are situated at the back. This variation in placement affects the kicking game in both leagues, as kickers in the CFL need to account for the closer goalposts when attempting field goals or extra points.


In conclusion, while both the NFL and the CFL share the love of football, they each have unique characteristics that set them apart. From field dimensions and player numbers to scoring opportunities and rules, these differences contribute to the distinct styles of play and strategies employed in each league. As fans continue to watch and enjoy the game, these variations only serve to make football even more fascinating and captivating.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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