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XFL, USFL, or CFL? What’s the Difference

Get Ready for Alternative Football Season

Following the Super Bowl, football fans would normally have to endure five months without. Fortunately, there are not one, not two but three alternative football options for everyone to watch and bet on.

The XFL returns just one week after the Super Bowl and will be followed by the United States Football League (USFL) in April and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in June. Between their football odds and rules, we examine their key differences.

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Basics of the XFL, USFL, and CFL

League/Roster Sizes

This is where the three leagues are similar. The XFL and USFL each have eight teams while the CFL has nine. The XFL and USFL also have 10 weeks of regular-season football with no bye weeks while the CFL has 21 weeks with each team having three bye weeks each (thanks to the odd number of teams).

The XFL’s regular-season roster size is 50 players for 2023 while the USFL and CFL are 45 each as of their previous seasons in 2022. For the players on the field, both the XFL and USFL follow the traditional American football format of having 11 players. The CFL, however, follows Canadian football, which has 12 players.

There are tight ends in the XFL and USFL, just like in the NFL. But with the CFL, tight ends are not used and offenses instead have three slotbacks. On defense in the CFL, there are two halfbacks along with two cornerbacks plus a safety. In the XFL, USFL, and NFL, they use two corners and two safeties. Keep these in mind before betting online.

When Does Each League Take Place?

As mentioned earlier, these leagues take place at different times of the year. The 2023 XFL season is slated to start on Saturday, which is just one week after Super Bowl 57. The XFL’s schedule features games played primarily on Saturday and Sunday. However, it also has games on Friday, Thursday and Monday.

The XFL regular season ends on April 23 with the playoffs starting the following week (April 29) and the championship on May 13. The USFL begins right around the penultimate week of the XFL (April 15 this season). The USFL playoffs start June 24 and culminate with the championship game on July 2. Games are played on Saturday and Sunday.

As for the CFL, it is more of a summer league with a start date of June 8. The playoffs start on November 4 with the Grey Cup – the championship game – on Nov. 19. The CFL typically plays from Friday to Sunday with some games scattered during the weekday.

How to Watch the Games?

Major sports broadcasters will carry the brunt of these games. The XFL’s games are mainly broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. FX will also air games for the first seven weeks. The XFL Championship is on ABC.

Over to the USFL, their games are carried by FOX, FS1, NBC, Peacock and USA Network. They have yet to decide on the specific broadcasts. As for the CFL, ESPN2 will broadcast some of its games.

Fans can bet on all three leagues in the online sportsbook.

The Rules: How Different are They?

We don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of all the rule differences of each league. The XFL and USFL have almost the same format as the NFL thanks to all three playing American football. Their biggest differences are modifications to the extra-point attempts, kickoffs, and options to keep the ball.

The USFL’s are as follows:

The CFL is a bit more complex because it is Canadian football. And in a nutshell, the CFL is largely different because it has three downs as opposed to four, features 12 players on the field and not 11, and has a larger field. The CFL also has a single point called a “rouge” and teams only have two timeouts per game.

Notable Players, Coaches

Fans may recognize several players and coaches from these leagues thanks to their tenure in the NFL and/or NCAA.

The XFL has star players like Josh Gordon, who plays for longtime NFL coach Jim Haslett’s Seattle Sea Dragons. Former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is with the St. Louis Battlehawks while D’Eriq King, a dual-threat QB from Houston and Miami in college, will play for the DC Defenders. Pittsburgh Steelers legends Hines Ward and Rod Woodson are coaches for the San Antonio Brahmas and Vegas Vipers, respectively.

Meanwhile, former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley will coach the USFL’s Memphis Showboats. Cavon Walker, the XFL sacks leader in 2020, is now with the Michigan Panthers of the USFL. And former Tennessee Titans receiver Taywan Taylor will return for the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers.

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