Chargers on verge of building Super Bowl contender

Here's a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the Los Angeles Chargers, who finished the 2017 season at 9-7. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.

Westgate odds to win Super Bowl LIII: 25-1

Should contend, but there are question marks: After the Chargers wrapped up the 2017 season by winning nine of their final 12 games, some players and coaches grumbled that they could have made a deep playoff run had they reached the postseason.

"I feel really encouraged about this organization and the things we can accomplish in the future," coach Anthony Lynn said during his end-of-the-season news conference.

However, by starting the season 0-4 the Chargers have no one to blame but themselves.

In a season where five different kickers attempted extra points, including punter Drew Kaser, the top priority this offseason is finding a consistent, dependable kicker who can be trusted on game days.

The Chargers have all but one player under contract (free safety Tre Boston) returning from a defense that allowed just 17 points per game last season, No. 3 in the NFL.

And the Chargers boast several playmakers back on offense, including quarterback Philip Rivers, receiver Keenan Allen, running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry.

Along with Lynn returning for his second season, the Chargers should benefit from continuity, with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley both signing multi-year deals to remain with the franchise.

"I think that next year we're going to be a team that is still playing into January," Rivers said at the conclusion of the 2017 campaign. "We've at least set the groundwork to kind of keep moving things forward to make the transition."