Canadian Football vs American Football: What’s the Difference?

Football, at any level and on any continent, is one of the most popular sports in the world. From the NFL to the CFL, and from NCAA to CIS, football is sure to be a hit with any sports fan.

And although at first glance, Canadian and American football can appear identical, they are two very different games. So if you’re interested in the CFL and love watching the NFL or vice versa, you need to learn the differences between Canadian football vs American football.

In this article, we’ll cover just that so read on below.

What Leagues Do Players Play?

The Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL) are the two professional leagues in North American countries. While they appear similar and both fall under the umbrella of American football, they are, in fact, different.

How Do Players Get Drafted?

In American football, the NFL holds an annual draft where teams draft college players based on their needs and players’ skills. In Canada, the CFL picks are the only Canadian players declared eligible for their first year of play.

There is also the CFL Global Draft that is applicable for non-Canadian players. CFL teams can draft players based on an evaluation of their game film and scouting reports. 

Additionally, NFL teams can also sign American players who have gone undrafted as “street-free agents.” 

Canadian Football vs American Football: Rules and Regulations

Canadian football vs American football rules and regulations differ in several important ways.

In American football, the teams consist of 11 players on the field; whereas, in Canadian football, there are 12. The CFL field is also larger than an NFL field and there is an additional down and different placement of the players on the field.

Furthermore, CFL rules allow for more passing plays and more points, as well as having a 3-point field goal. This is contrary to the NFL rules which only allow 1-point.

Lastly, the CFL has a much smaller active roster of 27 players versus 53 in the NFL. This difference in active roster size is a key reason for the nuanced strategies employed by CFL and NFL teams.

Playing Styles

The offensive formations and play-calling tend to be less intricate in Canadian football. This is because of the larger field and the focus on double teams in the blocking scheme. 

On defense, Canadian football employs additional zone coverages and four-man rushes. Again, this is contrary to the more straightforward man-on-man coverage found in the U.S. version.

There is also more emphasis on downfield passing when compared to the NFL. This is because of the larger field in the CFL and the lack of a proper rush.

The greatest difference in play style between the two games is the rules regarding the forward motion of the ball. The CFL allows two players to move in the same backfield, something not allowed in American Football.

Now You Can Enjoy Both Leagues!

Football is a beloved sport around the world, and North America is no exception. With their different gridiron-style playing field and distinct rules, Canadian and American football offer unique experiences.

North Americans from both sides of the border are sure to find joy in both Canadian football vs American football. So why not give each a try? Enjoy the best of both worlds!

Did you find this article useful? If so, keep reading for more great content.