In North America, football betting is dominated by the NFL. Upstart NFL competitors like the USFL, XFL, AAF, and others have come and gone, time and again, but none have amounted to anything more than a minor league.
Here in Canada, the CFL has endured. After ultimately failing to expand South of the border, it’ll likely never really compete with the popularity of the NFL, even here at home. Still, it has its diehard fans. And more football to watch and more football to bet on is always welcome.
If you plan on jumping in on CFL betting, here’s what you need to know about it compared to NFL betting.
Why betting on the CFL is better
There are several reasons why betting on the CFL might make more sense than betting on the NFL. Here are three key reasons:
- The CFL is local: The CFL is Canadian. That not only means the games are played locally, but your local newspapers and TV stations cover the teams, giving you local access to all kinds of news and information you can use to guide your picks.
- The CFL is small: It’s a lot easier to research nine teams than 32. The ability to focus your betting research on the much smaller and more manageable CFL should lead to profits.
- The CFL is high flying: Rule differences make the CFL a high-flying, wide-open, pass-heavy game. It’s a higher scoring league and that makes it infinitely more fun to bet on.
Why betting on the NFL is better
There are several reasons why betting on the NFL might make more sense than betting on the CFL. Here are three key reasons:
- The NFL is better: Better players and better teams lead to more consistent play, making the NFL a little more predictable than the CFL.
- The NFL is more popular: The NFL’s widespread popularity means major newspapers and TV stations all over North America cover the league in depth. That means easier access to all kinds of news and information you can use to guide your picks.
- The NFL offers more opportunity: With 32 teams each playing a 17-game regular-season schedule, plus the playoffs and the Super Bowl, the NFL season is chock full of thousands of betting opportunities. There’s more to bet on than the CFL or any other league can offer and that’s a good thing.
What about betting on both the CFL and NFL?
There’s no reason why you can’t bet on both the CFL and NFL. Just be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Success in betting on anything can be directly tied to good research. It may prove difficult to do the kind of research required to make good betting decisions if you’re trying to do too much.
These two football leagues are quite different. Rule changes make the CFL game pass-heavy, higher scoring, and more wide open. That said, the NFL is highly skilled, competitive, and many teams are passing more and more every year.
The increasing similarities mean betting on one might even help with betting on the other. After all, when you break it down, football is football and both the CFL and NFL are the same game.
And while betting on the Grey Cup is always fun, there’s nothing quite like betting on the Super Bowl.
Are there any CFL betting systems?
Many have spent years searching for a surefire NFL betting system. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. NFL betting experts may claim to have one, but few have the records to prove it. Instead of using the system to make money, they sell it for a profit.
If you’ve got more money than you have time to do the research required to find NFL betting success on your own, buying a system or specific picks is an option. Even though the system or picks may cost you more money than you’ll ever make using them.
Many NFL betting systems are “betting pattern” based, which means they are concerned more with bet sizing and amounts than anything else. You can use these systems to bet on the CFL as well. With significantly less money wagered on the CFL vs. the NFL, there are far fewer CFL-specific sports betting systems out there.
Should you find one, ask for receipts before you pay for it. In other words, get proof the system works before you invest in it. Otherwise, stick to the idea that good research is the true path to success betting on the CFL, NFL, or just about anything else.
Can you get an edge over books for CFL betting?
Like we just said, good research is the only true path to success betting on the CFL, or just about anything. It’s also the key to finding an edge over sportsbooks, or at the very least, finding where those small edges may exist.
Significantly less money is bet on the CFL versus the NFL. That means the books make less money on it, and therefore, spend less money on it. In turn, that means sportsbooks are more likely to make CFL line setting mistakes than most other sports and leagues. Become a CFL expert yourself through doing good quality research on the game and you can exploit those mistakes.
If you’re a tried-and-true Ti-Cats or Argos fan, for example, and watch the lines closely, you’ll likely be able to tell when Tiger-Cats odds or Argos odds are out of line with on-field expectations.
What does the CFL-XFL partnership agreement mean for betting?
So far, talks between the CFL and XFL haven’t yielded much. There’s been little talk about what the game might look like should a merger take place or what rules might be implemented if the leagues join together.
The CFL and XFL have been talking since mid-March 2021 but the only thing they’ve agreed to do is talk more. CFL fans worried Canada might lose its football identity are getting way ahead of themselves. Right now, both leagues are just looking at the possibility of working together and no agreements have been made.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says his league is just looking at a way to improve its business model. While the two sides will continue talking, the next CFL season looks like it will move forward without any XFL partnership agreement in place. These talks should have no impact on the game itself, and therefore, no impact on how you bet on it. For now.
How are CFL rules different from the NFL?
The CFL includes nine teams, all of which are Canadian-based. A typical CFL season runs June through Oct. with each team playing 18 games. It’s followed by playoffs culminating with the Grey Cup, usually in November or December.
The NFL includes 32 teams, all of which are US-based. In 2021, the NFL season expanded from 16 to 17 games. The regular season runs from Sept. to Jan. followed by the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl in early February.
Key rule differences between the CFL vs. NFL include:
- CFL football has 12 players on each side; the NFL has 11 players on each side.
- The CFL has a 110-yard field vs. the NFL’s 100-yard field. The CFL field is also close to 12 yards wider.
- CFL field goal posts are at the goal line, not behind the end zone like they are in the NFL.
- The CFL end zone is 20 yards deep while the NFL end zone is only 10.
- CFL teams have only three downs to pick up a first down instead of the NFL’s four.
- The forward motion before the snap is allowed in the CFL, but it’s a penalty in the NFL.
- There are no fair catches on punts in the CFL, but the kicking team must give the receiver 5-yards space.
- There’s a one-point Rouge in the CFL, scored when the kicking team misses a field goal or punts into the end zone and the receiving team fails to return the ball out.
Haralabos Voulgaris and the CFL
Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Haralabos Voulgaris is a sports betting legend. He reportedly made millions exploiting mistakes in second-half NBA lines and ultimately landed a job in quantitative research and development for the Dallas Mavericks.
Voulgaris says he grew up around gambling and was practically raised at the racetrack. He started betting on sports in Canada while a student at the University of Manitoba working part-time as a skycap at the airport in Winnipeg.
He claims his first real success came betting CFL football when the league expanded to the US. Voulgaris says some of the US teams used fields with NFL dimensions and sportsbooks didn’t properly account for it. He was able to exploit those lines starting with $100-$200 bets that grew to $2,000-$3,000 a game by the end of the season.