After a difficult, thrilling win on Sunday, the Giants are rewarded with a short week as they travel to Carolina to  battle the Panthers on Thursday night.

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So, have you recovered yet Giant fans?  Has your blood pressure equalized?  Mine finally settled down about twenty minutes ago.  But such is our lot.  Because while the first half can't say it wasn't fun watching Eli Manning Rope-a-Dope the Buccaneers - putting up 25 points in the second half to pull our squad out of the early hole that his three first half interceptions and the secondary's still abhorrent play had dug.

Now after all that, the G-men travel south of the Mason Dixon line and try to defend Cam Newton, Steve Smith and- oh no there goes my blood pressure again.

All joking aside, the Panthers present one hell of a challenge for Big Blue.  They're solid defensively, and with Cam Newton's ability to beat you with his arm and legs, and Steve Smith's presence in a passing game better than the one that sent Giant fans scrambling for Will Allen's number last week, you have to say that this is going to be tough one for the Giants.  Oh by the way, the G-men are without David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon...on the road...on a short week.

Ruh Roh.

Then again, I find my hopes for this week buoyed by two things.  First? ...We're on the road...on a short week.  I know it's academically dishonest, but it's true: the G-Men play better on the road, and they seem to only play well when they're backs are against the wall.  On the road with three days rest? I'd say that qualifies.

Secondly - and more importantly - Eli bleepin' Manning.  Last Sunday, the man once again showed his ability to captain the sinking ship, to pilot the burning plane through the engine failures and down to safety.  In the second half last week Manning became, again, who he was last year - the clutch throws, the right decisions, the willed wins.  I see no reason why the trend won't continue through this year - this is who Eli Manning is now.  In short?  Like Harvey Dent, I believe in Eli Manning.

Still, without his starting running back and his best wide receiver, Manning will have a lot of work to do Thursday night if he is to guide his team to another win.  You can't count on the Giants defense to stop Newton, Smith and Carolina's number two wide receiver Brandon Lafell, whom I expect to have a big game - so expect Manning to need to light up the scoreboard.  Without Nicks, the Robin to Manning's Batman will likely fall to Cruz and Black Unicorn Martellus Bennett, neither of whom have displayed the best hands in this young season, but both of whom have the talent to be the guy.

I'm having a tough time picking a winner here, folks.  So I'm going to let you.  Remember those books that gave you a choice of what to read, let you decide what would happen?  Well here it is, Diary of a Giants fan is going "Choose Your Own Adventure."  For the pessimistic game prediction, read on.  For the optimistic one, stop here and skip to the "@@@" below.

In the end, I expect a high scoring game, but I'm just not sure the Giants can overcome all of the obstacles in front of them. They have every chance to win in what I truly consider to be a tossup game, but missing who they're missing and after what it's after, I don't think they get the win, here.  There's just too much going against them.  I'll take the Panthers 28-27.  Skip on to the thrilling conclusion at "*****" below.

@@@ In the end, I expect a high scoring game and it's six to five and pick 'em in terms of who comes out on top.  I think the Giants are the better team, but given the injuries and the short rest, the issue has become nebulous at best.  But because I believe in Eli Manning, and because I believe the Giants D-Line will have a better game, and because I believe this Giant team has some weird character issue that forces them to play poorly against Charlie Whitehurst at home but out-of-their-minds well on the road, I'll take the G-Men to circle the wagons and score a tough win.  DEFIANCE! 31-28 Giants.  Read on to the thrilling conclusion at "*****" below.

*****Follow me on Twitter for live tweets throughout the game, and check back for a recap as soon as it goes final - and as always, Go Giants!