Difference Between NFL and AFL

There has always been a never-ending debate on what the most popular sport in the world is! And it undoubtedly comes down to Football.


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Most people consider football the best sport in the world. One big reason is the passion that people have for this game, which no other game can match up to.

When talking about football, the most popular has to be American Football. It is very popular among the masses and has a huge fan-base all over the world.

Otherwise known as Gridiron, it is specifically played in the United States and Canada. Along with numerous teams, it has different types of leagues too. NFL and AFL are two of them.


The difference between NFL and AFL is that the NFL is known as the outdoor American football, whereas, the AFL is the opposite, i.e., indoor American football.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonNFLAFL
FieldField 160 feet in width, 100 yards in length85 feet in width, 50 yards in length for a faster, higher-scoring affair
Goalpost18 feet wide with a 10-foot high crossbar 9 feet wide with a 15-foot high crossbar
RosterAn unlimited roster. 11 men on the field with unlimited substitutions. An active as well as an inactive roster, i.e., 20 and 4 respectively. 8 men on the field with only one substitution during a quarter, with exceptions.
Scoring6-point touchdowns, 3-point field goals. No score for defense. Quite same as the Nfl, but 2 points as an extra point and 4 points as a field goal could be earned after a successful drop kick. Also, 2 points for defense.
Rebound netsNo rebound nets. Passing plays and kickoffs that bounce off the nets were considered.
PassingBoth feet inbounds. Only one foot inbounds needed.
PuntingWimps go three-and-punt.Not allowed. Can go for it on fourth down.
Timing12-minute Halftime with exceptions and the Overtime is 15 minutes sudden death.
15-minute Halftime with exceptions and the Overtime is 15 minutes, with at least one guaranteed possession for each team.

What is NFL?

The NFL or the National Football League is America’s most popular sports league founded on September 17, 1920. It comprises of 32 teams; 16 from the National Football Conference (NFC) and 16 from the American Football Conference (AFC).

NFL has always had the highest number of fans around the world. Along with being the highest professional level of American football in the world, it is also the wealthiest professional sports league by revenue and the sports league with the most valuable teams.

It generally has a 17-week regular season that runs from early September to late December with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. After the end of it, 7 teams from each of the NFC and the AFC move forward to the playoffs, and then a single-elimination tournament is held.

The annual championship, or the Super Bowl is usually held on the first Sunday in February. Historically, the NFL has been by far the most selective of the professional sports leagues when it comes to consumer licensing agreements.

Nike and Rebook are two of the famous brands the NFL has dealt with.


What is AFL?

The AFL or the Arena Football League was an American professional football league founded in 1987. After the NFL and the Canadian Football League (CFL), the AFL was the third longest-running league which came to an end in 2019.

The AFL is generally a game of faster-pace and higher-scoring, with rules encouraging offensive performance. The AFL had its own developmental league, termed as the af2 from 2000 to 2009.

There were continuous 22 seasons played by the AFL from 1987-2008. However, internal issues led to the cancellation of its 2009 season, though the AF2 did play. Fortunately in 2010, the AFL returned after the AFL and the af2 were dismissed and a new corporation with teams from both the leagues was established.

Again, on October 29, 2019, the league commissioner, Randall Boe confirmed about the discontinuation of operating teams for the 2020 season by the AFL. Four weeks later on November 27, it was discovered that the league as a whole had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy which resulted in dissolving AFL for the second time.

Main Differences Between NFL and AFL

  1. The NFL is known as the outdoor American football, whereas, the AFL stands for indoor American football.
  2. The NFL is a game dominated by strategy where defense wins the championship, whereas, in the AFL a faster pace and higher scores do the work.
  3. The field length is 160 yards in the NFL with a 6-foot pointer border. In the AFL, the field length is 50 yards with a 48-inch high, foam-padded barrier.
  4. There is no score for defense in the NFL, the team has to play dead at the change of possession, whereas, there are 2 points for defense in AFL.
  5. The NFL has an unlimited roster, but the AFL has an active as well as an inactive roster.
  6. There is an unlimited number of substitutions possible in the NFL. But, in the AFL, players may only substitute once during a quarter, with exceptions.
  7. The Halftime is of 12 minutes with exceptions in the NFL, with 40 sec between plays. But in the case of AFL, it is of 15 minutes with exceptions, along with 25 sec between plays.
Difference Between NFL and AFL


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