A: At the time, the championship games for the conferences were rotated amongst the divisions, regardless of which team had the better record. If anyone has the championship rotation schedule for the 1970's, I would very much like to see it.
(Update, 12/07) - Page visitor Paul Lytle provides an explanation: To clarify your answer to the question as to why the 1972 Steelers hosted the undefeated Dolphins in the 1972 AFC Championship Game, the playoff rotation in each conference had to do more with which pre-designated division champion would host the wild card team in the 1st round divisional playoff games. Since the wild card would not be allowed to host ANY post-season games, the winner of the Divisional Playoff Game that pitted two (2) division champions would have the pre-designated right to host of the conference championship game. This would make it easier to assure that the wild card team would be excluded from hosting the championship game, as well as for TV networks to anticipate production travel and teams to sell prospective championship game tickets. The concept of the team with the best regular season record hosting the wild card (coming from a division other than its own) and having conference home field advantage was not implemented until 1975.
From 1970 through 1974, the designated divisional playoff hosts to the wild card teams were as follows, deviating only in the event that the wild card came from the same division as the pre-designated wild-card host.
AFC: 1970-west,1971-central, 1972-east,1973-west, 1974-central
NFC: 1970-central(a), 1971-west, 1972-east(b), 1973-central, 1974-west
(a) The NFC Central's Detroit Lions were the 1970 NFC wild card, so they were pitted against the NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys, instead of the pre-designated Division champion from their own division.
(b) The NFC East's Dallas Cowboys were the 1972 NFC wild card, so they were pitted against the NFC West Champion S.F. 49ers, instead of the pre-designated Division champion from their own division.
Again, the other divisional playoff games matched division winners for the right to host the conference championship game.
The AFC playoffs held form from 1970 through 1974, while the NFC plan required adjustment in 1970 and 1972, as the NFC wild card in those seasons came from the pre-designated wild card host division.
I don't know for certain how the alternative wild card host was determined in the 1970 and 1972 NFC playoffs, but it appears as though the host was the division winner that was scheduled to be the wild card host 2 years later, but that seems awfully complicated to have been planned that way at the time. For all I know, it could also have easily been determined by coin flip. I just don't know.
Q: What was the Dolphins' preseason record in 1972?
A: The Dolphins were 3-3 in the preseason:
8/05: at Detroit 23-31 L 8/12: Green Bay 13-14 L 8/19: at Cincinnati 35-17 W 8/25: Atlanta 24-10 W 8/31: at Washington 24-27 L 9/10: Minnesota 21-19 W
Q: What were the Dolphins' opponents' records that year?
A: Record in parentheses -- first is team's record when facing the Dolphins, second is team's final regular season record.
Miami 20, Kansas City 10 (0-0, 8-6)
Miami 34, Hou Oilers 13 (0-1, 1-13)
Miami 16, Minnesota 14 (1-1, 7-7)
Miami 27, NY Jets 17 (2-1, 7-7)
Miami 24, San Diego 10 (2-1-1, 4-9-1)
Miami 24, Buffalo 23 (2-3, 4-9-1)
Miami 23, Bal Colts 0 (1-5, 5-9)
Miami 30, Buffalo 16 (2-5, 4-9-1)
Miami 52, New England 0 (2-6, 3-11)
Miami 28, NY Jets 24 (6-3, 7-7)
Miami 31, StL Cardinals 10 (2-7-1, 4-9-1)
Miami 37, New England 21 (2-9, 3-11)
Miami 23, NY Giants 13 (7-5, 8-6)
Miami 16, Bal Colts 0 (5-8, 5-9)
Q: Do you really think the 1972 Dolphins could beat [fill in your favorite Super Bowl champion here]?
A: Again, I think it's fun to speculate how a team from one era could fare against another team in a head-to-head matchup. But the simple truth is that we'll never know how one team would do just looking at lineups on paper. Remember, the 1985 Bears were much better than the 1985 Dolphins... on paper.
Q: What a great website! Can I copy some of it on my site?
A: You are welcome to use any of this site on yours. However, I do ask for credit to be given to me. I spent several hours putting together this site, along with even more hours in the local library, going through old newspapers to put together the boxscores for all the games (I first put the pages together back in 1996, before information was readily available online to us like it is today). So, I would appreciate some credit as a courtesy for my labors.