Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football League is very different compared to the NFL. Football up north is exciting, let’s learn about it together! (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Idiot’s Guide To The Canadian Football League Part One

The Canadian Football League, CFL for short, is actually exciting when you give it a chance. However, it’s incredibly different than the NFL. In this post, I’ll detail some of the major and minor things that make the CFL different. Here’s the idiot’s guide to the Canadian Football League part one!

General Gameplay Rules

First things first, one of the most obvious differences in the CFL is that it is 12-on-12 instead of 11-on-11. This makes coverages different and allows for some more creativity on defense with the extra body. Similarly, offenses can be more creative with an additional receiver, making the strategy a bit different than the NFL. Then, there are only three downs in the CFL, not four. Every down holds much more importance, and field position is king. Next, there’s this thing that I like to call the “waggle.” In the CFL, if your receiver isn’t on the line of scrimmage, they’re allowed to run towards the line before the snap and get a running start. That’s not something that’s legal in the NFL, which is another reason why the CFL is unique. Finally, there’s something called a “rouge.” This is a single point that occurs when a ball is kicked through the back of the end zone, or if a team fails to return a ball out of the end zone.

Field Differences

As for field size, since there’s an extra man on both sides of the ball it only makes sense that the field is bigger too! A CFL field is 110 yards long from goal line to goal line, with the 55-yard line being midfield. The field is 65 yards wide, and the end zones are 20 yards long! Also, we have goalposts at the front of the end zone so chaos and heartbreak! If you need an example, look at the final play from the 2019 Western Final between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.


The CFL equivalent of the Super Bowl is the Grey Cup. This is where the winner of the East plays against the winner of the West to be crowned champion. This year, the Grey Cup is in December. However, it usually happens in late November.

There are so many other parts of the Canadian Football League that make it unique and different! As the CFL season is already partway through, I’ll be sure to keep adding to this series to make the professional football up north easier to understand.

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