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CFL Rules Explained

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If you miss the NFL, I suggest turning on NFL Network during weekends to watch the Canadian Football League. NFL Network is showing two games a week this year. Watching the CFL is no perfect substitute, but I think it is a very entertaining product. Whenever I see a game on television, I am usually drawn in.

The CFL has different rules than the NFL, which lead to a more wide open style of play.

Field dimensions: The CFL has a 110 yard field. That means midfield is the 55 yard line instead of the 50. The field is also wider by almost 12 yards. The field is more wide open, which is conducive to passing. Field goal posts are at the goal line instead of 10 yards deep in the end zone.

Number of players: Because of the wider field, teams are allowed to play 12 guys at once. This adds an eligible receiver to each play and again encourages a more open passing game.

Downs: Teams have three downs to pick up a first down instead of four. The effect is once again more passing since each play needs to pick up more yardage.

Motion: In the United States, one receiver may be in lateral motion at the time of the snap. In the CFL, any kind of motion is all right as long as enough players are on the line. Multiple guys can move in any direction, forward, backward, laterally.

No fair catches: Punts have to be returned. Returners get a 5 yard halo opposed to the NFL where there is no halo unless there is a fair catch.

Singles: This is an interesting quirk. If a team cannot return a kicked ball out of the end zone (like a touchback), even a field goal, a single point is awarded to the other side. The team scored against gets to keep the ball unlike a safety.

There are other differences, but these are the major ones.

It doesn't make up for the NFL, but I think the CFL is a lot of fun to watch. Montreal plays at Saskatchewan at 4:00, and Hamilton plays at Edmonton at 7:00 today on NFL Network.