These instructions are provided for those that have the 2012 Excel version of Playoff Computer.
NOTE- Playoff Computer does not restrict users from many normal Excel functions such as deleting sheets and data that could render Playoff Computer unusable. While it would take deliberate actions to do so, some basic Excel knowledge may help prevent such changes. The program is automatically saved after each use with the data currently shown and any changes, whether accidental or not, are also saved. We cannot send a replacement file unless re-ordered (keeping in mind it is only about the price of a cup of coffee).
-When first opened through Excel a "Security Warning" message related to Macros may appear. Choose "Enable Macros" (or similar option depending on Excel version used).
-An "Intro" page will appear with several tabs displayed at the bottom of the screen. Adjust Excel settings or maximize the Excel window if necessary for these to be displayed. Read through the "Intro" page as desired, but note the instructions here are usually more up-to-date and throrough.
-Click on the "Main" tab. This is where all of the league's data is entered. Depending on monitor size and resolution, all of the relevant columns may or may not be viewable at once. If desired, adjust Excel's "View -> Zoom" feature to increase the amount displayed without making the screen unreadable.
-Enter the email address used to purchase the program through Paypal where indicated (case sensitive).
-There is sample data in some fields to show the proper format. Change and/or delete these as desired. To delete an entry, select the cell and use the Backspace or Delete key to erase the entry (not the space bar). For each cell-entry to take effect, use the Enter/Return key or select another cell.
-Enter the number of teams in the league (4-16).
-Enter the number of teams (1-12) that make the playoffs, or the number of top seeds to calculate for. For example if six teams in the league make the playoffs, with the top two seeds earning a "bye" in the first-round of the playoffs, enter "6" here first, and then recalculate later with "2".
-Enter the remaining number of games in the season (1-32). For example, if the league has 8 teams that play head-to-head each week and there are three weeks left in the season, there should be 12 games left. If the league has 15 teams with two weeks left in the season with 1 team on bye each week, there should be 14 games left. If the league has 16 teams (ie NFL NFC) and 12 of the teams play each other with four teams playing outside the league (ie against AFC opponents), that would be 10 games. Each game in which at least one of the participants is in the league should be represented.
-Choose whether to factor ties as a possibility (Y/N). Ties greatly increase the number of permutations the program needs to calculate and thus the amount of time it will take to process. If ties are allowed but a rarity, with more than 16 games left in the season, it may be desired to answer "N" to quicken processing, and then change the answer to "Y" as the regular season winds down. The maximum number of games that can be processed with ties is 20. After that, NASA couldn't figure out all the permutations.
-Choose whether to use tie-breaking logic (0 or 4). If standings-ties are settled by division-record, enter "1". To use points-scored as the tiebreaker, enter "2". To use head-to-head results, enter "3" if the league plays a balanced schedule or "4" if the league plays an unbalanced schedule.
-Choose whether to only include/calculate teams within a specific division (if applicable). Leave blank to ignore.
-Assign each team in the league a number (1, 2, etc.), "Team #", and then input names and current wins - losses - ties for each team. Also assign each division in the league, if applicable, a number (1, 2, etc.) and enter that number as appropriate. Fill in all fields next to the appropriate number of teams, for example even if the league does not allow ties enter a "0" under "Current Ties". Same with any undefeated or winless teams, put a "0" in the appropriate spot, do not leave blank or use the SpaceBar to represent zero. Also input current division-records and/or points scored if applicable if those serve as a tiebreaker.
-Using the team numbers assigned, input the remaining schedule for the remaining games (up to 32) of the season. Work from the last game of the season backwards. For example, put the info for the last game of the season next to game "1" (ie "1" vs "2"). There also is a column to put in the weeks of a league's season for reference. See the pre-set entries for the appropriate format. For games involving only one team within the league (ie an NFL NFC team playing a non-conference game), enter "17" as the non-league, or non-conference, opponent.
-Note the number of possibilities listed along with the estimated time to process. There is a limit of 4.3 billion possibilities for the program to calculate. The number of possibilities listed should change as you change variables. If it doesn't automatically update, close the program and reopen if this info is needed. The estimated time of processing is without using Tie-Breaking Logic, which does increase the processing time, particularly H2H.
-If head-to-head matches serve as a tiebreaker, scroll down to the Head-to-Head Info section. Click on the "Setup H2H" button and then input current wins by each team for every matchup listed (or ties). It is ok to leave fields blank here to represent zero, and it is common for some match-ups listed to not have any actual results input. It is vital that the head-to-head results be entered accurately for the results to be correct.
-If the scenario is estimated to take more than a few minutes it is strongly recommended that all other applications, including internet browsers, be shut down, so that all computer resources can be dedicated to Excel, before proceeding. The time estimates provided are greatly increased with other applications running and/or on slower computers. Remember that for larger scenarios our Fancalc version is superfast! And only another $1.
-If everything is satisfactory, click on the blue "Start Calculations" button. It is recommended to not disturb the computer during this process, Microsoft Excel can be somewhat fragile when it comes to interruptions. If you do need to stop the process, use the Esc or Ctrl and Break keys (depending on the Excel version used and depending on your computer). Note that some computers may require using "Task Manager" to stop the process or even require powering off.
-Results will be displayed under the "Message" heading when this first step is complete (scroll to the right to display). The amount of time for this process will be dependent on the variables input and your computer's processing capabilitis. This simple analysis will be displayed as to whether they have clinched a playoff spot, been eliminated, or several other possibilities. If points-scored was chosen as a tiebreaker, the individual messages may display "*pts*" remarks. This indicates that the message is valid only if the overall points seedings between teams is maintained. See Tips & Tricks for more info.
-If there are relatively few games remaining or scenarios are not overly complex, the program will display a message saying that the "Analyze Clinch Scnearios" feature can be used. This will display the different "paths" necessary for teams that still have a chance at clinching a playoff spot but have not done so yet. These will only be displayed for teams that still have a chance to outright clinch a spot (or top seed) but have not done so yet.
-The data for up to three leagues, or different scenarios, can be saved. To do so, enter 1-3 where shown and click the "Save League" box. This will save the currently shown league info, standings, schedule, and H2H results. It will also save the Calculation Messages for each team, if any. The "Clinch Scnenarios" listings are not saved.
-To load the data for a league/scenario, enter 1-3 where shown and click the "Load League" box.
-The program is automatically saved with the latest data input upon exit. Thus each time the w-l-t records are updated for the league it is saved for ease of use upon return.
Increasing the amount of remaining games that can be realistically calculated and improving "Analyze Clinch Scenarios" performance.
The single biggest increase in potential complexity and consumption of Excel's capabilities is to include tie-games as a possibility. Although there can be scenarios where a tie-game does make a difference, if the possibility of a tie-game is at all remote it is strongly encouraged to choose to not factor tie-games as a possibility in the calculations. This will greatly increase the number of remaining games that can be calculated semi-quickly along with increasing the amount of "clinch scenarios" analysis that can be accomplished, along with producing a much cleaner-looking "clinch scenario" list.
Getting accurate results with the "Analyze Clinch Scenarios" feature.
After changing or when first inputting any data, always click on the "Start Calculations" button to re-compute the basic results before using "Analyze Clinch Scenarios".
Leagues with an odd number of teams and resulting bye weeks.
-No special set-up required. A team on bye will simply not show up in the grouping of a particular week's schedule
Leagues that play opponents outside of the League (ie non-conference foes).
-For any game that features a non-conference opponent, use "17" as the team # for that opponent.
-Smaller leagues in which the total number of teams in the league AND the number of different non-conference teams played by those in the league's remaining games doesn't exceed 16 can employ a trick. List all those teams within the "league" and put a w-l record similar to 0-99. Then when it comes down to using the "Clinch Analysis" feature the specific team names will be listed.
Leagues split into divisions with playoff spots awarded by division or separate prizes awarded to top team(s) in division(s).
-No special set-up required. When selecting a particular division to calculate (ie the top seed in division "1"), all teams not in that division will have a message shown as "Eliminated".
Reducing the number of calculations in order to quicken the processing time or allow analysis further out from the end of the season than might otherwise be possible.
-Since each game remaining that needs to be calculated adds a compounding number of permutations that must be worked through, it may be desirable to eliminate some games from the calculations if those games truly do not matter. For example, if it can be determined (ie manually by using magic numbers) that some teams have already clinched a playoff spot or have been eliminated, any remaining game in which both participants' fate is a forgone conclusion can be left off the remaining schedule section.
-For larger leagues split into divisions, to analyze division winners farther out than what could normally be accomplished with the permutations from the entire league, split the league into separate "leagues" for Playoff Computer by using the save/load feature or by manual entry. Note the games involving just the teams from that division, their opponents, and enter not only the team names for those in the division but also those that have a game involving teams within the division (as long as the total number of teams doesn't exceed 16). Put 0-99 as the w-l record for those teams not in the particular division calculating for. Enter the remaining games as instructed.
-To automatically include division-records and/or head-to-head results into the calculations, accurate current records must be entered in the appropriate fields. Head-to-head results may take some time (and a scratch piece of paper) to enter if they are maintained manually.
-The head-to-head tiebreaker has two options that allow for different calculations. Selecting "3" compares all teams tied in a particular scenario and ranks them by total record between the tied teams, and is meant for leagues that play a balanced schedule (ie 14 teams, 13 weeks, all teams play each other once). Selecting "4" will only apply the h2h tiebreaker when two teams are tied in a particular scenario, and is meant for leagues that play an unbalanced schedule (ie NFL). Thus when this option is selected there may be a rare scenario in which 3 or more teams would tie, by chance all those teams have played each other an equal amount, and one of those teams would win the tiebreaker against all other opponenets where the program will treat all teams as being tied for that scenario. If it seems that this rare occurance may be appearing, the tiebreaker logic could be changed to "3" to possibly identify which team would win such a tiebreaker. In fact, there may be some leagues like the NFL where changing between the two options is helpful. For example, the NFL plays a balanced schedule within Divisions so if running calculations only for a particular division the tiebreaker logic should be "3", and then when running calculations for the entire league (ie wildcard) the logic should be "4".
-To include points-for as a tiebreaker, enter the current points scored by each team as appropriate. The program will make tiebreaker calculations and display results based on the relative points-for rankings of each team not changing, except that it is assumed that a winning team scores 1 more point than a losing team. The displayed results will indicate when the analysis is dependent on the relative points-for rankings not changing with a "*pts*" notation. If no such notation is present, then that team's fate is not dependent on any points-for tiebreaker procedure.
-If a team's results with the use of tiebreaker logic indicate that they can do no worse than a tie or can do no better than a tie, the calculations can be re-run using the league's second tiebreaker procedure to see if that team's fate changes. For example, if team "Alphas" is showing that they can only hope for a tie based on the league's first tiebreaker procedure of head-to-head results, and the calculations are re-run using the league's second tiebreaker procedure of division-record, with team "Alphas" then showing as eliminated, it can be determined that they are elminated.
-The points-for tiebreaker fields and logic can be used for many other tiebreaker procedures not specifically listed with some manual organizing. In the points-for field, rank the teams by whatever the tiebreaker is (higher # is higher ranking).
"There is an error with data entered"
-Check basic parameters ("Teams in League", etc.), Make sure everything matches up.
-Check each team's record, make sure all W-L-T fields are filled in for each team (ie "0", not blank, if appropriate). If a "space" has been inadvertantly added after a number this may be impossible to detect, possibly requiring re-entry of all numbers.
-Check that the Remaining Schedule is completed as necessary. Use team #s, not names, in the schedule fields.
"Run-time error..." or pop-up box containing error-messages.
-Click "End" to dismiss the box. Check basic parameters, particularly that there is the appropriate amount of Teams listed with records compared to the number input as "Teams in League".
-The displays of how many possibilities (permutations) there are and approximation of time to processed based on user inputs sometimes lock-up and do not automatically update. The formula for number of permutations is: for no-ties factored, 2 ^ number of games. For ties factored in it is 3 ^ number of games. The displays will update if the program is closed and re-opened.
-In very rare and complex circumstances, the 'Analyze Clinch Scenarios' feature may display a game as necessary for a particular team to "clinch" that is not absolutely necessary. These are sometimes easily identifiable when the two teams listed are not relevant to the playoff race.