Key differences between the NFL and the CFL

North American football fans are blessed to have two versions of the game known as “Gridiron” colloquially. Both can trace their origins back to rugby football, commonly known as rugby union, which enjoyed widespread participation at colleges and universities.

The divergence of American football began in the late 1800’s, when the “Father of American football” Walter Camp instituted numerous rule changes. By 1920 the American Professional Football Association was formed, which became the National Football League (NFL) two years later, as the sport continued to grow and evolve into the modern game we know today.

The roots of Canadian football dates back even further, during a period when the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU) became the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) in 1891. By the time the Grey Cup was donated by Governor General the Earl Grey in 1909, the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada was a markedly different sport compared to rugby, having already introduced the Burnside rules and become more akin to the American game.

The modern football era

There are two leading professional football competitions we are familiar with today. American football is played under the auspices of the National Football League (NFL), across the United States. Meanwhile, Canadian football is played under the banner of the Canadian Football League (CFL), which still features the Grey Cup as the national championship game.

The NFL was initially formed as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, before the competition was renamed as the National Football League in 1922. The rival American Football League (AFL) began in 1960, although when both eventually merged, the Super Bowl era began from 1967 onwards.

Canadian football had remained largely amateur until the late 1930’s, although following World War II, increased professionalism eventually led to the Canadian Football League (CFL) being founded in 1958. Although the CFL briefly flirted with expansion to include franchises from the United States, it returned to an all-Canadian format in 1996 with nine active teams that remain today.

As leading “Gridiron” football competitions throughout North America, the NFL and CFL both attract plenty of wagering interest, which makes the latest SBO guide to the best betting sites handy. This highlights which sites have the broadest range of betting markets available, accompanied by reviews detailing where to find the most competitive odds and promotions.

Many of us like to focus on our own favourite sports, which make the SBO guide even more useful, thanks to dedicated sections focusing on competitions including the NFL and the CFL. The aim here is to provide a wealth of great information, enabling punters to quickly locate the best betting options to suit their own preferences.

Likewise, before deciding to wager our hard-earned cash on any team or competition, it always pays to be familiar with each sport. Such knowledge is more important than ever, given the huge range of betting markets available at all the leading online bookmakers. For this reason, knowing the key differences between the NFL and the CFL is always useful, whenever looking to back certain betting markets.

Comparing the NFL and the CFL

Perhaps the biggest difference between the NFL and the CFL is in the number of teams. There are 32 franchise teams competing in the NFL, compared to just 9 in the CFL. In addition, the NFL is much wealthier than the CFL economically.

Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the highest-paid player in 2022, earning just over $50 million per season at the Green Bay Packers. In stark contrast, the highest paid CFL player in 2022 is quarterback Zach Collaros, who earns around $550,000 per season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Insofar as the basic game itself is concerned, there are also several notable differences. The CFL playing field is longer and wider at 110 by 65 yards, compared to 100 by 55 and 1/3 yards in the NFL. In addition, field goal posts are located at the front of the end zone in the CFL, whereas they are at the back of the end zone in the NFL.

Although scoring is practically the same in both, the kicking team can receive a ‘single point’ or ‘rouge’ in the CFL. In Canadian Football, when the kicking team misses a field goal or punts the football, if the receiving team doesn’t return the ball out of their end zone, the kicking team gets one point. Also, if the kicking team misses a field goal, or punts the football through the end zone without it being touched, an additional point is awarded.

Other technical differences include CFL offering three downs per possession, compared to four downs per possession allowed in the NFL. In-play team sizes are also notably different, with 12 players on the field in CFL games, whereas there are 11 players on the field in the NFL.

Another key difference is the fair catch rule after a kicking team punts the football, which is applied in the NFL but not in the CFL, which instead applies a five-yard cushion for punt returns. Some of these differences might be considered minor, while other are fairly significant, which means that it is always worth knowing what sets the CFL and the NFL apart.

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