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Why Philip Rivers is as Bullish as Ever About the Bolts

Browse through the best pictures of Philip Rivers during the 2017 season.

The disappointment was palpable Monday as the Chargers packed up their bags at Hoag Performance Center after their 9-7 record wasn't enough to make the postseason based on tiebreaks.

However, there was also an abundance of optimism after what the team accomplished.

Winning nine of their final 12 games and six of seven to close out a season will do exactly that.

Perhaps most importantly, it has Philip Rivers feeling as optimistic as ever about the team's future.

Number 17 has been part of some of the greatest teams in Chargers history, including squads that went 14-2, made the AFC Championship team and so on. That's why his words carry major weight when he says he's as bullish about this team heading into 2018 as he was at any point in his career.

In fact, he described a recent conversation with Antonio Gates that exemplifies his optimism.

"What I do know is (Antonio) believes this team is really close," Rivers shared. "He believes this team has a chance.  We all did, and that's what was exciting for he and I after being through a decade-plus together. Seeing all the different teams, we look at this team and go, 'Gosh, this is up there with some of the best teams we've ever had.'"

Rivers is also excited about the future based on the season he just had, which he puts up along with some of the best in his career.

"In a lot of ways I had a good year," he said with a certain matter-of-factness.  "There's always plays you want back through every game.  Make a few plays here or there and we would have won them all.  But I certainly cut down on the turnovers.  Two games against Kansas City, I had six interceptions.  In the other 14, (I) only had four.  So obviously a better job taking care of the football.  I think a lot of credit goes to the guys up front.  The fewest sacks in the league, which is a testament to their hard work, our communication together.  A lot of things go into that happening.  And then the receivers on the outside and the backs, everybody being involved catching the football and doing the things they did.  So, you finish fourth in offense, you finish one in passing offense; we did a lot of good things offensively.

"It's one where I felt healthy all year.  Made it through the year healthy, and played at a level that is more characteristic of my past years for the bulk of my years.  Really, I feel encouraged and excited I can play at this level or better for a handful more."

And then there are the other pieces on both sides of the ball.

Rivers explained how there is a whole different feeling about the talent on the team heading into this last offseason compared to the past two seasons, and believes the rest of the NFL will take note as well.

"I'm not big on momentum, but I think you see a team now," he said excitedly.  "In the last previous two years, it was a team that can't win a close game, etc.  There was all that still hanging over you.  This coming offseason we'll be a team that, gosh, finished winning nine of 12.  (Pundits will say) they have these guys that can rush the passer, they have a guy that caught 100 passes, guys that got speed on the outside, they're going to have a young and healthy Mike Williams (and) gosh, an offensive line that played unbelievable.  The fewest sacks we've had in how many years, I don't know. A long time.  There's a lot of things they're going to say that are positive.  It's not going to be many, 'They're missing this, this and this still.' It's going to be (that) this team was close from being at least a dangerous factor in the postseason."

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