NFC West blocking Cardinals' path

The Patrick Peterson-led defense was one of the key factors in Arizona earning 10 wins in 2013. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Since moving to the desert in 1988, the Arizona Cardinals have rarely had as good of a regular season as they had last year. The Cardinals won 10 games for only the second time since 1976. They ranked 10th in Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average ratings, their highest regular-season ranking in the 25 years for which we have advanced stats.

Despite this, the Cardinals didn't make the playoffs, in part because they shared a division with the two best teams in the conference. As we look to 2014, hopes are high among Cardinals fans that this is the year they can get back into the postseason. Unfortunately for them, they are about to run into the same problem as they did in 2013: They play in the NFC West.

This isn't just about the power of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. It's also about the promise of the young St. Louis Rams players -- who lead the league in under-25 talent -- and an out-of-division schedule that includes the AFC West, where three teams made the playoffs a year ago.

Just how much better would Arizona's playoff chances be if it were in another division? We decided to find out.