What Is Canadian Football and Its Difference With American Football

You might think that Canadian football (CFL) is the same with American football (NFL). After all, they look identical at first look, which is especially true to the casual observer. But if you take a closer look, they have some important differences despite sharing a number of the same features. Here is everything you need to know about Canadian football, including what makes it different from its American counterpart.

The Number of Players

This is without a doubt the most obvious difference between the two. Both sports do not share the same number of players on the field. If American football teams have eleven members on each team, Canadian football has twelve on each side. The teams in the latter compete for territorial control of a field of play about 110 yards long and 65 yards wide.

Sports Betting

Yes, you read that right. Although sports betting exists in both sports, Canadian football is somewhat in the upper echelon. For starters, betting on CFL games can usually be tricky. So let’s say you are into a sports betting site and you are about to use free bets. It is important to note that CFL betting lines can, in one way or another, be surprising.

In case you are wondering, free bets come in various great incentives, such as “Welcome Bonuses” and “Enhanced Odds.” But perhaps the most interesting among these is none other than “No Deposit Free Bet,” which gives you a free bet without the need to make any deposit.

Going back, you may see that all West teams win their games in Week 1 games; hence, you believe these teams are stronger. Apparently, this is not the case always. That is why it is best to go with picks selected by game professionals, as they can really help you make an educated decision. This only goes to show how much of a fluctuating game Canadian football can be when compared to American football.


Interestingly, scoring in both games is almost identical. Safety is deemed two points while a field goal is three; a conversion run is worth two points while a touchdown means six points. As a kicked extra point, it is considered one point in both forms of the sports.

There is a huge exception, though – and it is none other than the single or rouge point. This one only exists in Canadian football. This point, in particular, is only awarded whenever the kicking team misses a field goal or punts the football. The receiving team, on the other hand, catches it and chooses not to run the ball out of their end zone.


Most people already know that NFL regular seasons start in September and ends in early January, though Super Bowl is always played on the first Sunday of February. With CFL, it is totally different. The season runs from July to November and the Grey Cup – its own version of the Super Bowl – is played on the last Sunday of November.

It should be noted that the number of seasons differs greatly as well. NFL teams are to play at least 16 games in each season while the CFL teams are to play 18 regular season games.

Field Goal Posts and Field Size

In the CFL, the field goal posts are the ones that are at the front of the end zone. As for the NFL, the posts are located at the back of the said zone. In terms of field size, the Canadian football tops the American football, 150 yards to 120 yards, respectively. Plus, the pitches in CFL are a bit wider at around 65 yards whereas, in the NFL, they are just about 53 yards wide.

Fair-Catch Rule and Punt Returns

If you watch the Canadian Football League, you will notice that the fair-catch rule does not exist. It is even the punting team that is responsible for giving the punt returner a space of at least five yards. In the National Football League, it is the complete opposite. Not only does the aforementioned rule exist, but also the punt returner has the freedom to choose to wave the hand in order to signal a catch. In other words, the opposing team is not allowed to either tackle or make contact with them. Still, the returner is expected not to advance the ball.

Cultural Differences

Surprisingly, both Canadian football and American football got developed sometime in the mid-19th Century. They both evolved from the titular British game that is rugby. Many would agree that CFL is all about cultural differences. In a report from BBC, University of West Virginia sports economist Brad Humphreys said that CFL significantly benefits from the strong desire of Canadians – they are all about maintaining a separate identity to the sports’ US version.

Humphreys states that Canadians are “acutely aware” of the many cultural differences between CFL and NFL. But despite that, the people in Canada are consciously making efforts to draw a separate line between the two games.

It is safe to say that Canadian football is different from American football. But it does not necessarily mean it is better than the other or vice versa. Both games are great to watch!

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