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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/14/2008

Before we get to the Chargers-Patriots discussions, a significant staffing move took place off the field this weekend ... and it involved New England.

Thomas Dimitroff, who as recently as last week was the Pats director of college scouting, is now the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons.

"Thomas is a really bright football mind who comes out of the most successful franchise in sports today," former Falcons GM and now team president Rich McKay said in a statement. "He has an excellent track record of evaluating players, and I certainly look forward to working with him."

"Tom's done a good job for us," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters during a conference call Sunday evening. "I've known him a long time since I was in Cleveland."

It's somewhat surprising that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose team is pursuing another Super Bowl title, allowed a high-level front office person to leave before New England's season ended. Kraft's generosity was not lost on his colleague, Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

"In doing so, he is helping us complete our head coach search in a timely manner, and ensuring the most positive and productive relationship between the new head coach and general manager," Blank said in an ESPN.com report when asked about Kraft giving his OK to the Falcons to talk to Dimitroff.

Dimitroff's first order of business, as Blank indicated, will be to help choose a new head coach for Atlanta.

Back here in New England, meanwhile, it's the Bolts, not the Colts, who'll be coming to Foxboro this weekend.

Most everyone expected defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis to challenge New England in this Sunday's AFC Championship Game. But they just couldn't fend off those determined San Diego Chargers, some of whom are feeling confident about their chances of toppling the Pats.

"The way that we're playing now, nothing can stop us," Chargers defensive end Igor Olshansky said in a USA TODAY feature on the playoffs. "I guarantee you that Belichick and everybody else over there are scratching their heads saying, 'Man, we better get ready.' "

And believe it or not, some in southern California aren't too happy about the match-up.

"Everyone with any kind of interest in football has been waiting all season for [Indy] to challenge [the Pats] perfection, and the Chargers go and goof things up," an LA Times writer opines today. "Shame on [San Diego] for ruining everyone's fun."

QUICK HITS

So far, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that the Chargers don't have what it takes to beat New England this coming Sunday.

And a writer from the Chicago Sun-Times takes it one step further. He writes that the Patriots are locks to win their fourth Super Bowl.

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