After 0-4 start, Chargers finish strong and build momentum for 2018

CARSON, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers ended the season with a 30-10 win to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Here's a recap of the season and what's next:

Season grade: Above average. The Chargers (9-7) played better in the second half of the season after an 0-4 start, working their way into the postseason conversation. Quarterback Philip Rivers made his seventh Pro Bowl, throwing for more than 4,000 yards for the ninth time in his past 10 seasons. And running back Melvin Gordon finished with more than 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his three-year NFL career.

Season in review: In his first year as the Chargers' coach, Anthony Lynn showed resiliency in leading the Bolts into postseason contention after a poor start. For the first time in three years, the Chargers will not finish with a losing record. Wide receiver Keenan Allen finished with his best season as a pro, making the Pro Bowl for the first time in five NFL seasons. While Allen, Rivers and Gordon led the offense, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram handled things on the defensive side. Both Bosa and Engram finished with double-digit sacks, the first time a Chargers' pass-rushing duo accomplished that feat since 2006, when Shawne Merriman had 17.5 sacks and Shaun Phillips totaled 11.5. Cornerback Casey Hayward also had a Pro Bowl season for a second straight year; he has developed into one of the best cover corners in the NFL.

Biggest play of season: Rivers had one of his best games of 2017 on Nov. 23 against the Dallas Cowboys. In that nationally televised game -- with the Chargers playing on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1969 -- Rivers threw for 434 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, leading the Chargers to a 28-6 win against the Cowboys.

He said it: "Coach Lynn has always talked about wanting to be a mentally and physically tough team. We wanted that to be one of our traits. I think it starts from the top. I do think that over the years here -- and I'm thankful I've had some hand in it, certainly a lot of guys in leadership roles on the team -- but I've felt the last 10-plus years, that's been a trait of ours just to fight back and battle through whatever circumstance we're in." -- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Key offseason questions:

Biggest draft need: The Chargers have not drafted a quarterback since 2013, but this might be the year the Bolts look for an eventual replacement in the upcoming draft to groom behind Rivers. The 36-year-old quarterback is signed through the 2019 season. The Chargers also could use a left tackle to eventually replace Russell Okung, who will turn 31 in October.

Free-agency targets: Finding a reliable kicker remains a priority as the Chargers head into the offseason. Los Angeles used four different kickers during the 2017 season but never found that long-term fit. Nick Rose finished out the year as the main guy, but he likely will have competition if he stays in 2018.

A year removed from relocation: After spending an offseason relocating from San Diego to Orange County, 2018 should be a much smoother transition for players and staff during the offseason. Most players have found homes near the Costa Mesa, California, team headquarters and can focus on improving themselves during the offseason, while the franchise will continue to make headway in trying to build a fan base in Los Angeles, with the new stadium in Inglewood set to open in 2020.

Closing time for Gates? Longtime pass-catcher Antonio Gates made history earlier this season, eclipsing the all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history. Entering Week 17's contest against the Raiders, Gates had 114 career touchdowns catches. However, at 37 years old, Gates was not used regularly until the tail end of the season, when Hunter Henry suffered a lacerated kidney to finish his campaign. In the final year of his deal, Gates could be moving on to greener pastures this offseason.