Differences between NFL vs CFL

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

The National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL) are two of the most popular professional sports leagues in North America. The CFL, which is Canada’s longest-running organized football league, has nine teams. The NFL currently consists of 32 franchises. 

The gameplay between NFL and CFL is different due to significant rule differences – the field size for both levels is 110 yards long by 53 1/3 yards wide with 10-yard end zones on each side while a CFL field is 100 yards long by 65 1/2 meters wide with 20-meter end zones on each side, 12 players can be on the field at once for an NFL team vs. 11 players per team in a CFL match up, there are three downs instead of four in the CFL, the ball is placed at the 25-yard line after touchbacks on kickoffs instead of the 20-yard line as in the NFL, and finally, a rouge is worth one point in the CFL while an extra point is worth two points in the NFL.

Professional football is a popular sport enjoyed by millions of people across the world. There are two main types of professional football, NFL and CFL. While both leagues have similarities, some key differences set them apart. In this blog post, we will explore those differences to help you understand the leagues better.

Comparison between NFL and CFL

Parameters of ComparisonNFLCFL
ManNFL teams have 53-man rostersCFL teams only have 46
GamesThe NFL has 12 game regular seasonCFL has 18
SalaryThe average salary for an NFL player is $2 millionaverage salary for a CFL player is $60,000
YardThe field in an NFL stadium can be up to 100 yards long and 160 yards wideCFL stadium can only be up to 65 yards long and 110 yards wide
Player22 players on each team during an NFL game20 players on each team during a CFL game

What is NFL?

The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of professional American football in the world. The NFL has 32 teams split between two conferences, with 16 teams per conference. At the end of each season, six teams from each conference play in a single-elimination tournament to determine which team will represent their division in the Super Bowl which is played at a pre-determined site and date, typically early February near New Orleans as that city was home to Tulane University for many years before it moved its campus upriver to New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood.

In addition to those major events, there are also four minor preseason tournaments. three exhibition games played by each team’s starters against one another and an all-star game, usually played the week before the Super Bowl, that pits the best players from the American Football Conference (AFC) against those from the National Football Conference (NFC).

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What is CFL?

The Canadian football league is a professional football league in Canada. It consists of nine teams: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Toronto Argonauts, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Calgary Stampeders, the Edmonton Eskimos, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the BC Lions, the Ottawa Redblacks, and the Montreal Alouettes. The league is divided into two divisions: East and West. The Grey Cup is awarded to the champion of the playoffs every year.

The Canadian Football League (CFL) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL was officially organized on January 19, 1958, making it the third-oldest professional gridiron football league in North America behind only the National Football League and American Football League. Unlike other leagues that have similar formats, there are 12 teams with two divisions: East Division and West Division. It’s not just about being a fan of your preferred team – you can also be a fan of any one of these amazing athletes.

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10 Differences between NFL and CFL

1. The NFL is a professional league, whereas the CFL is semi-professional.

2. In the CFL, there are 12 players on each team’s roster and only three downs to get 10 yards for a first down.

3. There are two teams of 11 players in the CFL and each player has one more point than their NFL counterpart (for example, an offensive lineman would have 2 points).

4. Unlike in football where you can’t touch or tackle anyone with your hands below their waist, you’re allowed to do so in Canadian football as long as it doesn’t result in contact with someone else’s head or neck area.

5. There is no blocking of any kind allowed by either offense or defense during play.

6. A field goal scores 3 points if it goes through the uprights and 4 points if it goes over them; whereas a touchdown (i.e., crossing the end zone line) scores 6 points.

7. The game is played in Canada on a 110-yard field with end zones that are 20 yards deep (the same as an American football field).

8. In the CFL there are 3 downs for each play and they can’t go out of bounds before getting 10 yards, whereas in the NFL they get 4 downs to get 10 yards or more.

9. The Canadian Football League plays two halves of 15 minutes while the National Football League plays one-half of 60 minutes.

10. For touchdowns in both leagues you score 6 points but you can also score 1 point by kicking a single ball through your opponent’s goalposts.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of NFL

1. The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in America.

2. There are 32 teams in the NFL, with 16 in each conference.

3. The Super Bowl is played at a neutral site for one of these conferences.

4. Each team must have 53 players on their roster, and there are eight men on the field per side at any given time.

5. A touchdown is worth six points and conversion from two yards out earns an extra point.

6. To be eligible to play, an individual needs to be 18 years old or older and meet certain requirements set by the player’s country of origin.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of CFL

1. The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the third most popular professional sports league in Canada.

2. There are nine teams in the CFL, with three in Western Canada and six in Eastern Canada.

3. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have won the most Grey Cups, with 24 wins out of 68 appearances

4. Most CFL players don’t get paid much money – they only make about $40,000 a season. 

5. The average attendance for an NFL game is 66,955 people while that number for an NFL game was just over 20,000 people last year at the BC place stadium.

6. Quarterbacks are not allowed to wear gloves on their hands because it’s seen as giving them an unfair advantage.


The NFL is the most popular football league in North America. It has teams across the United States and one team in Canada. There are 32 total teams, with 16 of them being based in the U.S., while there are only 6 Canadian Football League (CFL) franchises spread out over three provinces within Canada’s borderlines. A significant difference between these leagues is that all CFL games are played on natural grass fields, unlike their counterparts who play on the artificial turf at every stadium except for Raymond James Stadium which hosts Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games each year after renovations were completed to accommodate a real grass surface back in 2005. Another differentiator is that both professional American football leagues have 18-man rosters whereas Canadians can use 20 players per.


Resource 01: https://www.nfl.com/
Resource 02: https://www.cfl.ca/

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