Which Has More Action: A NFL Game or an EPL Match? The Answer May Surprise You

Ask Americans why they don’t watch soccer, and chances are that most of them will argue that soccer is boring and that there’s not enough scoring in the game. Dig a little deeper, however, and you may be surprised by what you find.

Reddit user Rolldog did some research after one of his friends got into an argument with him that “there’s not enough scoring in soccer.” Here’s what Rolldog uncovered based on the 2011-12 season:


  • 1066 goals
  • 380 matches
  • 2.81 goals per match


  • 1259 TDs
  • 256 games
  • 4.9 TDs per game

Then he factored in real time per game viewing length:

  • NFL: 3 hours, 7 minutes = 187 minutes
  • EPL: 1 hr, 51 minutes = 111 minutes

So, scoring in real time:

  • NFL: 187/4.9 = 38.16. A touchdown every 38 minutes of real time.
  • EPL: 111/2.81 = 39.50. A goal every 39 minutes of real time.

So, when you break it down, the EPL and NFL are practically on a par when you compare how often a goal or touchdown is scored. In his data, Rolldog didn’t factor in field goals.

“Go ahead and throw out the ‘not enough scoring’ argument against soccer,” said Rolldog. “Only difference is length of the game and giving 1 for a goal instead of 6 for a touchdown.”

16 thoughts on “Which Has More Action: A NFL Game or an EPL Match? The Answer May Surprise You”

  1. Action is not only goals or touchdowns but also the ball in movement. Playboy had some data on this awhile back that stated NFL only has about 11-18 minutes of “actual” play during the entire 3hrs.. I believe this data indicates the rate of scoring is on par but not action.

    1. True. I’ve found that I can skip through all commercials and commentary and watch any NFL game in just under 30 minutes. Some plays just deserve a replay.

      However, I don’t think you can put up the scores without including Field Goals in the NFL. There are just too many wins decided by field goals.

      According to http://www.pro-football-reference.com there were 838 Field Goals (not XP) made in 2011. So, using Rolldog’s math the NFL has one score every 22.80 minutes.

      That said, I personally still enjoy most soccer matches more than the majority (not all) of NFL games because, quite simply, I hate commercials.

  2. I grew up as a die-hard NFL fan. But since I got into the “real” football ten years ago I generally find watching a game of the NFL variety to be just intolerable. Play stop play stop play commercial commercial commercial play commercial play stop…. etc etc.

    If I watch NFL now and I can’t sit still or refrain from checking the internet or whatever. I can actually barely stay awake. But if I watch the EPL I pay rapt attention for the entire 90 minutes and do nothing else other than at the half.

    It is just such a better game. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this site, but it just is.

    1. You are so right about the stopping/starting. It bugged me long before I discovered the beautiful game. What’s even worse are the last two minutes of a basketball game. Commercials during a tense two minutes are so annoying. I have dropped these sports completely after a lifetime of being a die hard.

  3. The scoring rates are nearly identical, but I give soccer the edge because

    1) the action is nearly nonstop whereas between every play in football everyone has to gather up and talk about things,

    2) the clock doesn’t stop and a game is almost always over in two hours including halftime in soccer whereas in football is can take upwards of four hours to play sixty minutes

    3) the same players plus three possible substitutes play both sides of the ball in soccer whereas in football there are usually at least thirty players who get gametime

    4) there’s no such thing as a field goal in soccer – you either score or you don’t and nearly getting a goal doesn’t offer a consolation prize

    5) egregious fouls can lead to a player being ejected — which can also happen in football, but doesn’t result in the team having to play with only ten men the rest of the time

    and so on.

    1. Nice points mentioned here, makes me realise why I appreciate soccer so much. But at the same time, I have no idea what American football is like though.

  4. the calculations in this report are wrong, as it says we did not inclulde field goals, which are a vital component of the game, so how about doing the same calculation taking out for example penalties or direct free kicks and then do the calculations.

  5. very interesting, but like others have said, it’s not a convincing argument for NFL fans.

    1. For most American football fans I would say the appeal is not so much in the scoring, but in the field possession battle and the buildup to the score. A team can have a thrilling 80-yard drive that ends in a hum-drum TD run in from the 1-yard line. American football presents the buildup to the score in easily digestible chunks.

    2. Soccer is more naturally appealing to American who love basketball more than football (they exist!). The thrills are largely the same, open back-and-forth play, sprinting, jukes, and fast breaks.

  6. Spare me the stats. I don’t think I will ever understand a game that has a billion commercial breaks. Nevermind the name of the game where they play FOOTball with their HANDS.

  7. I think both sports offer a great deal of action and excitement and I enjoy both very much. I think it all depends how you approach both sports and what you are looking for in the game. However, I will say to people who complain about commercials is a necessary evil (got to pay the bills) but if the commercials bother a person that much I would suggest something is wrong with your attention span.

    1. Would rather watch a movie on TV or on a bluray? What would you say if you went to the movie theater and instead of having all the bs ads before the previews they were spliced into the film?

  8. This is about as shocking as reading the sky is blue. I can barely watch NFL football anymore. The commercial breaks are just too much to bear with. Hockey games last only 2 to 2.5 hours. A football game can go 3.5 hours! I don’t know if the EPL has spoiled me or whether the commercials in the NFL have exploded.

    Simply put, there is no action when you are watching a beer commercial.

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