What's the Difference?

The CFL (Canadian Football League) and NFL (National Football League) are both professional football leagues, but they have some key differences. Firstly, the CFL has three downs compared to the NFL's four downs, which affects the style of play and strategy employed by teams. Additionally, the CFL has a larger field and end zones, making the game more wide open and high-scoring. The NFL, on the other hand, is known for its physicality and hard-hitting style of play. Another significant difference is the number of teams, with the NFL having 32 teams compared to the CFL's nine. Despite these disparities, both leagues share a passion for the sport and provide thrilling football action for fans around the world.


League NameCanadian Football LeagueNational Football League
Number of Teams932
Field Size110 yards long, 65 yards wide100 yards long, 53.3 yards wide
Number of Downs34
Number of Players on Field1211
Field Goal Point Value33
Touchdown Point Value66
Number of Divisions28
Championship TrophyGrey CupVince Lombardi Trophy

Further Detail


Football is one of the most popular sports in North America, and two of the most prominent leagues are the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL). While both leagues share similarities in terms of gameplay and rules, there are also significant differences that set them apart. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of CFL and NFL, shedding light on various aspects of the game.

Gameplay and Rules

When it comes to gameplay, both the CFL and NFL follow the same basic principles. The objective is to score more points than the opposing team by advancing the ball into the end zone or kicking it through the uprights. However, there are notable rule differences between the two leagues.

In the CFL, the field is larger, measuring 110 yards long and 65 yards wide, compared to the NFL's 100 yards long and 53.3 yards wide. Additionally, the CFL has three downs to advance the ball ten yards, while the NFL allows four downs. This difference in downs affects the strategies employed by teams, with the CFL often featuring a more pass-heavy game due to the need to gain more yards in fewer attempts.

Another significant rule difference is the CFL's allowance of motion before the snap. In the CFL, offensive players, excluding the quarterback, can be in motion towards the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. This motion creates a faster-paced and more dynamic game, with receivers often running full speed at the snap. In contrast, the NFL restricts motion, allowing only one player to be in motion parallel to the line of scrimmage.

Furthermore, the CFL has a unique rule known as the "rouge." If a team fails to score a touchdown or a field goal, but the ball is kicked into the end zone and not returned by the opposing team, the kicking team is awarded a single point. This rule adds an interesting element to the game, as it encourages teams to attempt long field goals or punts to gain an advantage.

Player Talent and Recognition

While both the CFL and NFL showcase talented athletes, the NFL is widely regarded as the pinnacle of professional football. The NFL attracts the best players from around the world, and its teams consist of elite athletes who have excelled at the college level and beyond. The NFL's popularity and financial resources allow for significant investments in player development, training facilities, and scouting.

On the other hand, the CFL provides a platform for players who may not have had the opportunity to play in the NFL. Many CFL players have impressive collegiate careers but may not fit the mold of an NFL player due to various factors such as size, speed, or playing style. The CFL offers these players a chance to continue their football careers professionally and gain recognition in a different league.

While the NFL receives more media coverage and has a larger fan base, the CFL has a passionate following in Canada. The CFL's Grey Cup, the championship game, is a highly anticipated event that captivates fans across the country. The CFL also has its own stars and legends who are celebrated within the league and by its dedicated fanbase.

Financial Aspects and Salary Differences

Financially, the NFL is undoubtedly the more lucrative league. The NFL generates billions of dollars in revenue each year, primarily through television contracts, sponsorships, and ticket sales. This financial strength allows NFL teams to offer substantial contracts to players, with top-tier athletes earning multi-million dollar salaries.

On the other hand, the CFL operates on a smaller scale financially. While CFL players are still professional athletes, their salaries are significantly lower compared to their NFL counterparts. The average CFL player salary is around $80,000 to $100,000 per season, with only a handful of players earning higher salaries. This salary difference reflects the contrasting financial landscapes of the two leagues.

Despite the salary disparity, many players choose to play in the CFL due to the love of the game, the opportunity to continue their football careers, and the chance to compete at a high level. The CFL provides a platform for players to showcase their skills and potentially earn a future opportunity in the NFL.

Game Atmosphere and Fan Experience

Both the CFL and NFL offer unique game atmospheres and fan experiences. NFL games are known for their grandeur, with massive stadiums, state-of-the-art facilities, and extravagant halftime shows. The NFL's Super Bowl is a global spectacle, attracting millions of viewers and featuring high-profile musical performances.

On the other hand, CFL games have a more intimate feel, often played in smaller stadiums that allow fans to be closer to the action. The CFL's fan culture is deeply rooted in Canadian traditions, with passionate supporters creating a lively and energetic atmosphere. The Grey Cup, in particular, is renowned for its festive ambiance and the sense of national pride it evokes.

Both leagues have dedicated fan bases, but the NFL's popularity extends beyond North America, making it a global phenomenon. The CFL, while primarily focused on Canadian fans, has a loyal following and plays a vital role in Canadian sports culture.


While the CFL and NFL share the same objective of entertaining football fans, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. The CFL's larger field, different downs system, and unique rules create a fast-paced and dynamic game. The NFL, on the other hand, boasts the world's top talent, immense financial resources, and a global reach.

Both leagues offer exciting gameplay, passionate fan bases, and opportunities for players to showcase their skills. Whether it's the CFL's Grey Cup or the NFL's Super Bowl, football enthusiasts can enjoy the best of both worlds by appreciating the unique attributes of each league.

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