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What’s The Difference Between The NFL & USFL? 

There’s no questioning the fact that football is one of America’s biggest sports. Yet it also has a huge global audience with millions of people tuning in for every game — a huge factor that makes the sport very unique. 

The National Football League (NFL) is indeed the premier football competition thanks to its array of extremely talented players, teams that work like a well-oiled machine, and also its very prominent entertainment factor.

A new branch of the previously dissolved professional United States Football League (USFL) launched in April 2022. But what is this league, and could it ever become a true rivalry for the NFL?

Here are the differences between the two professional football leagues.

What is the NFL?

The National Football League (NFL) is a major sports league in Canada and the US. It’s also the highest level of professional American football in the entire world. 

The whole purpose of the NFL is to deliver exciting games and provide an entertaining experience for fans everywhere in the form of the game itself and betting opportunities. 

If you want to place bets or simply want to see how the teams are currently performing, you can view NFL spreads for more information.

What is the USFL?

The USFL is a spring start-up league that hasn’t played an official game since the end of the old league in 1985. Yet a version of it returned in April 2022. Though it is unrelated to the old version of the league, it has a very similar goal.

It consists of a 10-week regular season and a two-week-long postseason to find the champion of the league.

This minor league football league aims to capitalize on the space during the NFL offseason when there is very minimal action during live-action football games. One thing is for sure: it will not survive a direct challenge against the NFL.



As the largest of the two leagues, the NFL has the highest number of teams that compete each season. Right now, 32 teams from all across the country actively compete in the NFL. The USFL started with 18 teams (1982-1985) and, upon reinvention for the 2022 season, had 8 teams actively competing in the league.

Structure of the Season

The NFL is usually 18 weeks long and runs from September through to the tail end of January. 

Each of the 32 competing teams will play 17 matches during the season with playoff matches hosted afterward. This leads directly to the final match between the two championship teams, usually held on the first Sunday in February.

Notably, the USFL aimed to host their seasons in winter to directly compete against the NFL. However, the 2022 variation played out in the Spring through to the Summer (April to July 2022), just after the NFL came to a close. 

Avoiding direct competition with the sporting giant that is the NFL is a very smart move. Hosting any USFL games at this time of year also avoids clashes with the March Madness of college football.


As you may know, the NFL is the most established and oldest football league in the US. This premiere league was officially founded in 1920 and played its first season this same year. It is currently still one of the greatest annual sporting leagues in the world.

The USFL was founded in 1982 to elevate football to a more prestigious level than baseball. It was active for only three years and remained dormant until its return for the 2022 season. However, there is no exact legal connection between the newer entity and the original source.


The NFL operates according to traditional, or standard, football rules. As the premier football league, this is to be expected. These standard rules cover anything from the running time of the game to grounds for disqualification.

On the other hand, the USFL abides by rules that appear to merge college football and the NFL. Yet there is one major change to these rules that are concerned with the pausing of the clock.

What’s Next?

It’s hard to say what’s going to come next for either of these leagues. Due to its popularity, high-quality turnover of talent, and solid fanbase, the NFL doesn’t look set to go anywhere at any point in the future. So you can rest easy if this is something you’re concerned about.

The newer USFL league is shrouded in a bit more uncertainty. We can’t speak for its success as there has only been one season so far, and it’s relatively impossible to tell. All in all, there’s an equal chance that this league will also become highly successful or fall at the next hurdle.


Although they are both professional football leagues, there is one crucial difference between the two professional leagues: the NFL is a major football league whereas the USFL is a minor football league. 

As more high-profile teams and players compete in the NFL than in the USFL, these games will automatically draw in a much larger audience, thus increasing the popularity and reputation of the league (hence the “major league” title!)

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