CFL Rules

I am interested in learning some of the rules of the game .. particularly those that separate the CFL from the NFL. Since I haven't been able to see the games (although I will starting this week !!!) I don't have a solid understanding of the differences - other than the field dimensions, 12 players per side, and the scoring. I consulted the "official" CFL rule book, but it's not an easy read. Does anyone have any links to articles or sites that break down the main aspects of the game, differences in the NFL rules, etc ??

As always, your help is very much appreciated


This article might help you out:

[url=] ... L+Canadian[/url]

If you type "differences between cfl and nfl" into Google, you'll find a few different articles.

Thanks Chief, much appreciated :rockin:

The differences are not that big

  1. No fair catch.
    The kicking team must give a 5 yard halo around the punt returner. 5 yard penalty if the ball bounces before the returner touches it.....15 yards if the returner catches it on the fly
    The only players who can touch(recover the ball) is the punter or any player who stands behind the punter when the ball is kicked.

2)In order for a pass to be complete, the receive needs only 1 foot inbounds as opposed to 2 in the NFL

  1. unlimited backfield in motion. Anyone in the backfield can be moving before the ball is snapped. Only 1 can in the NFL

  2. The rouge or single point.

If during a punt or field goal try the ball goes through the endzone, or if the returner elects to take a knee, the kicking team is awarded 1 point and the receiving team scrimmages at the 35 yard line Many consider this to be rewarding a failed fieldgoal but that is not the case. The point is awarded because the receiving team did not get it out of the endzone.(lets not hijack the thread please)

  1. 1 time out per half
    2 challenges per game. If you lose the first you do not lose a time out, Losing the second will cost you a time out. If you win both you will receive a third, if you have a time out left.

  2. 20 second play clock as opposed to 40 in the NFL

That is pretty much it.

  1. Don't forget that the clock stops as the play gets whistled in and out in the last three minutes of each half. This is different from the NFL, because the only way the clock stops at the end of either half is the 2 minute warning, a time out, an incomplete pass or a player going out of bounds while play is still whistled in.
8) Also, CFL overtime consists of a shoot-out that has up to three mini "halfs", where each team gets to offensively field the ball on their opponent's 35 yard line and play till they score or run out of downs. If a team outscores their opponent in the first series, (where each team has scrimmaged offensively) that is the end of the game. If not, they move onto the 2nd mini half. If no tie breakage in the 2nd mini half, they do a third round. If neither team breaks the tie during those three mini halfs, the game ends in a tie, which is rare. This is another reason the rouge plays heavily into the CFL game.


The above is all good stuff. The 1 foot in bounds and the OT format you’ll be familiar with if you follow college ball. For that matter, how the CFL keeps time in the last 3 minutes of each half is closer to NCAA than NFL, where in the former the clock stops to reset the chains. Except, of course, in the CFL the 2 minute warning is a 3 minute warning.

In addition to the above, far as rosters go, the CFL has a 46 man active roster, from which 42 players dress, rather than the NFL 53 man roster. There is also a requirement that 20 players on the 42 man roster are Canadians, 7 of which must be starters.

The CFL is more relaxed than the NFL regarding number allocations among positions (again, more like NCAA), and in the CFL the only ineligible numbers are the 50’s, 60’s and 90’s. In the NFL 70-numbers are not eligible.

There will be a myriad of slight differences between penalty interpretations between the 2 leagues (holding and pass interference come to mind immediately), but we’re drilling down into pretty fine detail if we’re talking about those kind of differences.

I just found this out this season and was completely shocked. I always just assumed they had two timeouts per half. It doesn't seem like the one timeout is an issue, but it just doesn't seem like it'd be enough. :lol:

I much prefer the CFL's overtime format. The sudden death format works in hockey, but not in football. So many times I've seen a game end with a 50+ -yard field goal. I find it incredibly lame.

I wholeheartedly agree with Chief on the OT. It seems that in the NFL, whomever wins the coin toss wins in OT and the game. Both teams should be allowed to scrimmage the ball at least once.

I have no problem with the OT but I prefered the old way(bout 7-8 years or so ago)

They used to play 2-5 minute halves

the NFL's numbering system for their players is absolutely retarded.

running backs can't have single digit numbers.. receivers can't have numbers in the 10-30 range. it's absolutely ridiculous.

that league is so boring!!

It's more rigid than the CFL...some may like that better, others not.

But they do allow WR's to wear numbers from 11-19 now.

Dont forget the Kicking game, In Canadian football the Kicker can recover a punt , and any "onside " player, teams can kick on any down, and missed field goals are" LIVE" and still in play.Cheers

The NFL's overtime is awful ... In high scoring games where the defenses can't make plays the first team to get the ball is almost a guaranteed winner. The CFL system sounds similar to the NCAA - they play on the shortened field and each team gets the ball and must match what the team did before them. First team to not score after the opposition scored looses the game. Much better system than the NFL.

That article was amazing. I had no idea that Randall Cunningham started his career in the CFL (he didn't), that the league was started in the 1930s (it wasn't), or that even the US field is 53.5 yards (it almost is, but not quite). However,I do agree with a lot of the comments made here.

Overtime is better than the NFL, but I do prefer the 2-5 minute halves.

Kicking game rules (i.e. on-side rules are totally superior). The idea that a kicker is automatically on-side is a "no brainer" (funny the NFL hasn't thought of that), the fact that any player behind the kicker being also on-side is totally non-used in the CFL and should be used.

Scoring rules. I love the rouge, if a team cannot advance the ball out of the endzone (sole exception is for an interception in the endzone), then they should be able to concede a point for yards.

Timeout. Nothing worse than the timeouts at the end of a close NBA or NFL game (especially basketball). One is all you need, and if you burn it, you lose it.

Just my thoughts on the relative merits of the CFL's rules.

The CFL game (& rules) are far superior to the NFL game hands down. The NFL is a better (TV) production hands down....but that has to do with money.

Just thought of another one

Because the D-line must give a 1 yard buffer zone on the LOS. The ball cannot be scrimmaged inside the 1

If you are stopped on the 1 inch line, the ball is moved back to the 1 yard line