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CFL Betting: A Guide for US Bettors

CFL betting logoThe CFL, which stands for the Canadian Football League, has some major betting potential for American bettors. Once the NFL and NCAAF seasons are done, there’s some what of a football action void left in the summer. If you’re looking for great football betting lines, the CFL offers excellent lines. It is the football league of elite teams in Canada and it’s similar to our football but with a few differences. We’ll take a look at those in our CFL guide later below. Canadian football is the country’s second most popular sports after hockey. Tensions are high, the fans are loud and loyal, and their championship – the Grey Cup – is one of their most watched sporting events in the year.

Our neighbour’s version of football evolved from rugby, which they played in Canada from around the 1860s. By the time they had the Grey Cup in 1909, their version of rugby had picked up many similarities to American football. The CFL Canada was officially founded in 1958 after merging Canada’s two major rugby unions. These created the Eastern Conference (the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union – IRFU) and the Western Conference (the Western Interprovincial Football Union – WIFU) CFL divisions.

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What you’ll find in this CFL guide:

How Does the CFL Work?

As we mentioned earlier, the CFL has some rule differences to American football. From the number of CFL divisions, to how many players in a team and football field, it is as familiar to US bettors as it is different. If you want to become knowledgeable at CFL betting, here are some key differences that you should know.

CFL Rule Differences

In comparing Canadian football to American football, let’s take a look at the CFL vs NFL.

  • An American football team has 11 players while CFL teams have 12.
  • The field for Canadian football is a bit longer than American fields. Comparatively, this league’s field is 110 x 65 yards and an NFL field is 100 x 53 1/3 yards.
  • In the NFL, there’s a four-down limit while the CFL only has three.
  • Another Canadian football rule differences is that there isn’t a fair catch rule. No player from the kicking team, except the kicker and any player behind them during the kick, can approach within five yards of the ball until the opponent touches it.
  • Also, in CFL football, at the snap, all offensive backfield players – excluding the quarterback – are allowed to move as long as they are behind the scrimmage line.
  • The clock restarts after tackles in Canadian football.
  • Canadian football allows the defensive line to block or hold up a receiver if they are within one yard of the scrimmage line versus the NFL allowing contact to be made up to five yards.
  • The penalty flag in is orange instead of the NFL’s yellow.
  • Finally, where the NFL announces penalized teams with general terms like “offense” or “defense”, the CFL announces them by their city or province.

Canadian Football Season and Finals

The teams in the Canadian league play 18 games during the 21-week regular season, which is from mid-June to early November. Additionally, they also have three bye weeks for them to recuperate.

After the regular season, six CFL teams move into the three-week divisional playoffs in November. These six teams are the top teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference divisions.

In week one, they play the division semi-finals:

  • West Division 2nd team vs. West Division 3rd team
  • East Division 2nd team vs. East Division 3rd team

Week two of the playoffs, teams play for the CFL divisions West and East championships:

  • West Division 1st team vs. West Division semi-final winner
  • East Division 1st team vs. East Division semi-final winner

The final week three, teams play for the Grey Cup:

  • West Division champion vs. East Division champion

The Grey Cup is the CFL’s equivalent of the NFL’s Super Bowl. It is always played on the last Sunday of November at a stadium chosen two years in advance. They also present Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player during the festivities. Additionally, they award a Grey Cup MVP and Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian.

As you can imagine, CFL betting action is high during this season, with bettors wagering on how the playoffs will go, who will win the cup, and who will get MVP.

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CFL Football Betting Lines

CFL betting lines are a lucrative market for not only Canadians, but anyone interested in betting on Canadian football. There are a number of CFL betting lines and trends available at sports betting sites. Let’s take a look at the most popular CFL football betting lines.

Point Spread

The most popular bet type for Canadian Football League bettors, the sportsbook gives the favorites to win a negative handicap while the underdog a positive handicap.

Money Line

This bet is pretty simple to make. You wager on who will be the winner or the loser of a match.


An over/under bet involves betting on whether the total points scored in a game will be less or more. The set number you wager will be over or under is set by the sportsbook.

Race to 10 Points

Here you can wager on which team will get off to a flying start.

First Team to Score

CFL betting likes to predict who will score first in the game. Generally, this is more of a novelty prop bet than a serious prediction.

First Scoring Play

There are six bet options to choose from with a first scoring play bet: home team touchdown, field goal or another score or away team touchdown, field goal, or any other score.


This bet is about predicting who will be leading the scoreboard at half-time and full-time. The possible combinations are:

  • Home team/ home team
  • Home team/ away team
  • Away team/ away team
  • Away team/ home team
  • Draw/ home team
  • Draw/ away team

Winning Margin

You select which team you want to win and the range of points they’ll win by.

CFL football

CFL Betting Tips & Strategies

Because the CFL football rules differ from American football, you’ll have to adjust your betting strategies. Here are some CFL betting strategies to help you get started:

  • Consider the rule differences: because of the differences, the total line for CFL games is usually 10 points or more than the standard NFL game. Looking at a Canadian football season, the total went Over in 53.3% of games in spite of the total lines being 50 points or more. Focus on playing Over in the CFL right until the start of the regular NFL season.
  • Because teams in the league must maintain a certain number of Canadian-born players in their roster, the playing field remains fairly even over the course of all nine clubs. The relative parity between the teams makes it a bit difficult to focus just on playing sides in CFL football.
  • In Canadian football the home field advantage is pretty strong. In a CFL season the home team tends to win around 62.4% of the time straight up and 54 percent of the time in an against the spread league betting line.

How Many Teams are in the CFL?

Compared to the NFL, there are relatively fewer teams in the league divided up into two divisions. Let’s take a look at the nine CFL teams below.

East Division

In the Eastern Conference, there are four teams:

  1. Montreal Alouettes: founded in 1946, they’re located at the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, Quebec. They’ve won seven Grey Cups.
  2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats: established in 1950, their home stadium is the Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ontario. The Tiger-Cats have won eight Grey Cups.
  3. Ottawa Redblacks: the Redblacks were founded in 2010. They call the TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Ontario their home. They’ve won one Grey Cup.
  4. Toronto Argonauts: founded in 1873, the Argonauts are based at the BMO Fields, Toronto, Ontario. They’ve racked up 17 Grey Cups.

West Division

In the CFL Western Conference, there are five teams:

  1. BC Lions: created in 1954, the Lions are based at the BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia. They’ve taken the Grey Cup home six times.
  2. Calgary Stampeders: the Stampeders were founded in 1945. Based at the McMahon Stadium, Calgary, Alberta, they’ve won the Grey Cup seven times.
  3. Edmonton Eskimos: established in 1949, the Eskimos are in the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta. They’ve won the Grey Cup 14 times.
  4. Saskatchewan Roughriders: the Roughriders were created in 1910 and are based at the Mosaic Stadium, Regina, Saskatchewan. They have four Grey Cups to their name.
  5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers: founded in 1930, the Blue Bombers are based at the Investors Group Field, Winnipeg, Manitoba. They’ve won the Grey Cup 10 times.

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