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Difference Between NFL and CFL

footballNFL vs CFL

Though NFL and CFL have certain similarities, one can find very significant difference between the two. First of all when talking of the number of players, the CFL comprises of twelve players and the NFL has only eleven players. This means that the defensive and the offensive lines vary in both NFL and CFL.

Another significant difference seen between NFL and CFL is in the playing field. The CFL has a larger playing field than the NFL. While the CFL playing field length is 110 yards and width is 65 yards, the NFL field is 100 yard long and 53 ½ yards wide.

There is also difference in the balls that are played. The CFL balls come with a larger circumference than the NFL ones. Even in the stripes across the ball there is difference. When the balls used in NFL have no stripes, the balls used in CFL have white stripes.

When talking of time-outs, each team in NFL is allowed three time-outs in each half. In CFL, it is just one time out for each team in each half. Another difference that can be seen is that the first shot of the match should pass between the centres legs. This is not needed in NFL match. There is difference of positioning of the defensive team from the line of scrimmage in both the CFL and the NFL. While this distance in CFL is a full yard, it is eleven inches in NFL.

When referring to the play clock (time to start a play after the referee has whistled to play), the NFL teams get 40 seconds and the CFL teams get 20 seconds.

Another difference that can be noticed between the two leagues is that unlike the NFL, the CFL does not utilize sudden death to decide the game after time out. Each of the CFL teams is given 2 possessions to score. And even then if the two teams do not score, the match ends in a tie.

Coming to the number of Downs and Scoring Rules, the National Football League and the Canadian Football League are different. When teams playing in NFL are given four downs to earn a first down, the teams in CFL are only given three downs.


1.Each NFL team comprises of eleven players and it is 12 players on each side in CFL.
2.The CFL comes with a larger playing field than the NFL.
3.When the balls used in NFL have no stripes, the balls used in CFL have white stripes.
4.When talking of time-outs, each team in NFL is allowed three time-outs in each half. In CFL, it is just one time out for each team in each half.

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  1. Haha … I just surf around and see these comments. I can not believe there is still

    so much fascination. For the production of this article, thanks.

    • That’s because you don’t have the intelligence to understand a complicated game such as football whether its CFL or NFL. Go back to playing checkers.

  2. Bobby, don’t be so ignorant, because chess is a game where a person must have intelligence and common sense.
    Football is a game where grown men run around in tights while spanking each others butts, and the object of the game is to run into eachother as hard as possible while trying to remember which side of the field to carry the ball to, sounds hard….lol

    Plus most chess players don’t take illegal drugs in order to play better

  3. There are more differences and some things here are incorrect. I’ll start with the fact that the goal posts in the CFL are at the goal line like the NFL had before they moved them to the back of the endzone. The endzones are 20 yards deep in the CFL instead of 10 yards deep in the NFL. The balls are now the same size but the CFL ball is still striped while the NFL ball is not. The rules of both leagues have a legal size range which happen to overlap so Wilson made a ball that’s legal in both leagues, thus reducing costs to both leagues. The defensive lines in both leagues are the same, 3-4 or 4-3 (in standard formations). The offensive line changes somewhat because instead of the NFL formula of one tight end and two wide receivers, you get two slotbacks and two flankers (again, standard formations). In the NFL defensive backfield, there are two cornerbacks, one strong safety and one free safety while in the CFL, there are two cornerbacks, two defensive halfbacks and one safety (once again, in a standard formation). The CFL has unlimited motion in the backfield allowing the flankers and slotbacks to take a running start at the line of scrimmage, the offensive line must remain still. All punts or missed field goals MUST be returned or a single point known as a “rouge” will be awarded to the kicking team and the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 35 yard line, in that sense, there is no touchback. There is no fair catch in the CFL but all offside players (on a punt, everyone except the punter) must be at least 5 yards away from the returner when he touches the ball. If they are not, a 15-yard “no-yards” penalty is assessed if he catches it cleanly while a 5-yard penalty is assessed if the ball bounces before being caught. The CFL also has a 3-minute warning instead of a 2-minute warning but during those last 3 minutes, incomplete passes and going out of bounds do stop the clock until the next snap but plays that end in-bounds stop the clock until the ball is spotted. Finally, all quarters (and therefore all games) MUST end on a play, even if the clock reads 00:00. A team cannot just run the clock out on the sideline to end the game.

    Oh yeah and the NFL no longer uses immediate sudden-death overtime.

  4. And of course, as soon as I submit that, I remember two other differences. One is that a receiver only needs control and one foot in bounds (like the NCAA) and the other is how out-of-bounds fumbles are handled. In the NFL, a fumbled ball that goes out of bounds is returned to the team that fumbled it. In the CFL, it is awarded to the last team that touched the ball before going out of bounds.

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